top of page

Kingsley Hall, 1947

Making It Happen

Kingsley Hall relied on fundraising to provide services for local people. The dedication of the members of Kingsley Hall made fundraising events a great success, but with changes to the community, and different requirements of local people, fundraising strategies have had to change.



“I used to go down there at eight o’clock in the morning, and I didn’t expect to come home until one o’clock

in the morning. In fact, Mr Russell used to call it Dennis’ Day! We’d prepare it all morning, and we’d open it at two

o’clock, and then we’d have the stalls going until about half past four. We’d pack up, I’d stay down there and have a shower. Then at half past seven we’d start a social in the evening. That would go on until about ten o’clock, and

then we used to have to sweep up all the hall and clean it up, to arrange it for the service for the Sunday.

And then we’d sit down, have a cup of tea, and talk.” Dennis Riley


With changes to both Dagenham and the many different groups that use facilities at Kingsley Hall, the community centre has undergone changes in recent years. It can often be hard to unite newly arriving people into a single community, and Kingsley Hall provides an important service in helping to achieve this, much as it did when it first came to Becontree.

 “It was an oasis in a dysfunctional area. It draws you in, and, I don’t know why you feel this draw for Kingsley Hall,

but you become possessive about it, and you don’t like other people coming in and messing about with it.”

Carol Lucas

“I sat on a board meeting, and, without exaggeration, everybody else around the table had probably known

each other for fifty years… It’s certainly not easy to change if somebody just comes in and says, ‘Well I think you

should be doing that.’ And forgetting that people have been there for years, and working very hard.”

Jem Trehern

Challenge Of Change

Emily Saville at the Kingsley Hall Cafe today

Children and Kingsley Hall nursery staff, c.1947

The Children's centre still in use today

“Kingsley Hall is not just a community church, but a church

of communities… Sunday before last, I got down here at my usual time,

and the Tamil service was still going on. I was only aware of it because of the noise coming from the hall. So I walked round and looked through

the window, and somebody saw me and said,'Come in! Come in!’ I went

in, didn’t understand very much, but the sheer joy of the service…

I know I sat there with a smile on my face.”

Tony Lucas

 “Some of the groups were regular hires. Because they were

regular and because I was there most of the time, I got to know them very well. It became far more than just a business arrangement. It became a friendship with some of them, some of the people.” 

Stephen Morley

“Sydney Russell had died in 1988, and they decided to honour his

work in the borough for so many years by naming the new school after him. He not only pioneered loads of work here, you know, the first

 lending library, the first luncheonclub, and the first pre-school. He

was on the education committee ofthe borough, so his work was not totally in Kingsley Hall, it was borough wide.”

Tony Lucas

“We had to save up for these buildings. I mean, the money wasn’t

given to us! We used to sell scent cards. People used to buy ‘em and put them in with their clothes in the cupboard so that they smelt nice. We have a jumble sale every six weeks… And of course we had garden fetes. When I was only fourteen I had a rhubarb stall, because in that area everywhere you could grow rhubarb, because they were the original fields.”

Emily Saville

“It got people volunteering and didn’t have to hire a very large

staff. There weren’t any other full time members of staff. Not in those early years... There was plenty of opportunity for people to contribute, and plenty of forums for people to voice their ideas, and their criticisms, and their suggestions... I helped to organise activities and events, and in particular fundraising events like jumble sales and fairs, but also special celebrations.We used to have things like an anniversary weekend, at

which part of the celebration would be a concert or something, and a performance of something that we’d put on to entertain people.” 

Tony Lucas

bottom of page