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Hopes that ACV will keep historic pottery workshop in Hampstead community

PUBLISHED: 14:31 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:19 19 October 2018

Matilda with some masks on display in the shop in June. Picture: Harry Taylor

Matilda with some masks on display in the shop in June. Picture: Harry Taylor

Archant

Hampstead’s well-known ceramics workshop, Well Walk Pottery, has been made an Asset of Community Value (ACV), boosting hopes it will stay as a workshop despite its rumoured sale.

Matilda holds up a piece of pottery on display at Well Walk. Picture: Harry TaylorMatilda holds up a piece of pottery on display at Well Walk. Picture: Harry Taylor

Ceramicist at Well Walk Matilda Moreton lodged the ACV application with Camden Council earlier this year, after the death of its previous owner Christopher Magarshack in January. He had run the workshop for half a century.

Matilda, of Gospel Oak, learnt to throw her first pot at Well Walk, on the corner of Willow Road and Gayton Road, more than 20 years ago.

She returned in February, after Christopher’s death, when Islington-based Claytime Pottery re-opened the workshop. She believes the strength of feeling about the Hampstead institution is strong.

The 52-year-old said: “People were always coming in and saying how excited they were that it had started up again.

Matilda paints a bowl on a pottery wheel in the workshopMatilda paints a bowl on a pottery wheel in the workshop

“The letters we got supporting our application came from all sorts of people, and it showed it has affected the lives of many people and organisations.”

In supporting the ACV application, the Heath and Hampstead Society praised its unique qualities. A statement from its chairman Marc Hutchinson said: “There is nothing like it in the borough and, if it were to close, it could not be replaced.”

While the workshop isn’t currently on the market, it was advertised as being up for sale during the summer, and Matilda suspects Christopher’s family, who own the building, will relist it shortly.

An ACV means that, if the owner of a property wants to sell, they have to tell the council. Local groups then have six months to try and raise the cash to buy it.

Matilda said she hopes, if it is relisted, people will club together to keep it going.

“We have educational classes in here with children with special needs,” she said, “and hold lots of other workshops here.

“At a time when people are trying to get away from digital technology, and mindfulness is on the rise, it’s a really important facility.

“I’m pleased we’ve got it, and the council recognised its importance. It’s not a guarantee of any kind – it just buys us time to get a community bid to buy the property.”

They are now fundraising, and are holding a talk at Burgh House with artist and author Edmund de Waal.

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