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Demolition work begins as we rebuild Profumo House

Published: 30 Aug 2017


As the redevelopment of the Toynbee Hall Estate continues to accelerate, we have reached another significant milestone as the demolition work on Profumo House begun. The works commenced on the 24th July, and are due to be completed in September. This will be followed by piling and a crane will be installed as the new built begins.

The Profumo House building block, which sits at 28 Commercial Street, replaced the original 1884 development which was destroyed by bombing during World War II. ‘The Gatehouse’ as it was previously known was rebuilt in 1965, with help with the International Volunteers Services digging out the basement and Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, turning the first sod. It was officially opened in March 1967 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey.

Since then it has housed the Warden’s flat and office, accommodation for Toynbee Hall’s dedicated Residential Volunteers, and on the ground floor The Citizen’s Advice Bureau and, most recently, our Free Legal Advice Centre until our services relocated to our temporary home on Old Castle Street in 2015.

It was known as The Gatehouse until 2006, when the building was renamed in honour of John Profumo, who passed away in March 2006. John was a long-term volunteer and President of Toynbee Hall who dedicated 40 years of his life to our work and to the people of the East End.

The rebuilding of The Gatehouse was conceived at the time as, 'the first building in a substantial redevelopment of Toynbee Hall' by then Warden, Walter Birmingham. It is incredibly appropriate that 50 years on, this symbolic building is transforming as we undergo another substantial redevelopment to ensure Toynbee Hall continues to modernise and meet the future needs of our local community.

As part of the redevelopment’s associated heritage project, we are looking to make contact with past residents of Toynbee Hall. If you haven’t already been in touch with our Heritage Learning and Participation Manager Eleanor Sier and would be willing to share your memories of your time here, please contact Eleanor on 07506998053 or email