Central line closure has “devastating” effect on Redbridge Open House attendance

St Peter's Church in Newbury Park

St Peter's Church in Newbury Park - Credit: citizenside.com

Redbridge’s cultural hotspots claim tube maintenance work severely hampered visitor numbers for the Open House event last weekend, with one saying it had a “devastating effect” on attendance.

Ron Jeffries

Ron Jeffries - Credit: Archant

Venues across London took part in the two-day event to show “all that is best about the capital’s buildings, places and neighbourhoods”, with dedicated architecture-lovers queuing up to five hours for more popular venues like Battersea Power Station.

Redbridge had 18 venues and buildings open to the public, including Bancroft’s School, Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue and St Peter’s Church in Aldborough Road North, Newbury Park.

But Transport For London’s maintenance work on both weekend days on the central line - east of Bethnal Green - caused some visitors to abandon travel plans altogether.

“It was very disappointing that they closed the central line that weekend,” said St Peter’s publicity officer, Ron Jeffries. “It really was thoughtless of TfL to choose that weekend.”

Mr Jeffries, 80, of Spearpoint Gardens, Newbury Park, said 106 visitors came to the church for last year’s event - 64 on Saturday and 42 on Sunday.

This year only 52 visitors came - 35 on Saturday and 17 on Sunday.

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“I am in no doubt whatsoever that the closure of the central line had a devastating effect on attendances,” he added.

St Peter’s was not the only venue to notice a downturn in visitors numbers from previous years.

Bancroft’s School in Woodford Green reported that only 30 “groups” attended its Saturday event, compared to 56 in 2011 and 58 in 2012.

Ann Taylor, the school’s assistant head, said she felt visitors “had come more locally”.

Ms Taylor said the maintenance work meant her and her husband had to cancel plans to visit Open House venues in central London.

She said: “We wanted to go into London to see other venues as visitors but it was just too disruptive because the tube was down. We just gave up in the end”

Mr Jeffries hopes that “Open House and its venues can work with TfL in the future” to avoid a repeat of this year.

A TfL spokesman said: “The central line was suspended between Bethnal Green and Loughton/Hainault, via Newbury Park, all weekend except on Sunday when the closure was extended to Liverpool Street until 8am. This was while we replaced drainage in the Leytonstone area and to facilitate station improvement works at Buckhurst Hill.”