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“We need to fight for it”: Belsize Park documentary maker of under-threat England’s Lane launderette joins calls to save facility

PUBLISHED: 12:14 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 14 January 2020

Russell Bentley made a documentary about the characters and history behind the launderette in England's Lane. Picture: Russell Bentley

Russell Bentley made a documentary about the characters and history behind the launderette in England's Lane. Picture: Russell Bentley

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A Belsize Park actor who made a documentary about the under-threat launderette on England’s Lane has thrown his weight behind the campaign to save the longstanding facility.

The launderette, saved for now, is in 49 England's Lane and attracts customers from as far as Golders Green and Archway. Picture: Michael BonifaceThe launderette, saved for now, is in 49 England's Lane and attracts customers from as far as Golders Green and Archway. Picture: Michael Boniface

A Belsize Park actor who made a documentary about the under-threat launderette on England's Lane has thrown his weight behind the campaign to save the longstanding facility.

Russell Bentley, 48, made the documentary in 2017 charting the history and characters behind the launderette, namely the owner Celia King, 60.

Now, with the business under threat of being replaced by a juice bar, Russell, 48, has joined Belsize Park residents in calling for it to be saved.

He said: "Originally I wanted to do a sitcom about the launderette but I felt it wasn't quite right.

"The documentary was about gentrification and telling Celia's story because she gives so much to the area. She helps the homeless. They cherish her there.

"There was a buzz in the area and it was clear everyone was on board with the documentary. We wanted to tell their story and show the importance of the launderette to the community.

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"It is a place for the people of the hostel to go and wash their clothes."

Should the launderette close, there are concerns for the 150 families at nearby hostel England's Lane Residence, which houses the homeless, and where there are no washing facilities.

Russell added: "We are fighting to keep the launderette open and the more and more people that watch the documentary the better chance we have of saving it.

"How many more cafes do we need on England's Lane?"

Russell, who splits his time between acting, writing and narrating, grew up in Belsize Park after living in the US until he was ten, going on to train at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in Swiss Cottage.

He has featured in a number of films and TV programmes including Kick Ass, Proof, Lost Battalion and Watergate. He is also set to appear in Doctor Who and Damian Lewis' upcoming docuseries Spy Wars.

Russell received a Sony award for his work on the BBC Radio 4 series Voyage directed by Dirk Maggs and appeared on Radio 3's Woody Allen season in The Whore of Mensa.

To watch Russell's documentary on the England's Lane launderette, please click here.


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