Tell me about The Tool House, what was the vision behind its creation?
Running a community workshop at the museum has been something that I have wanted to do ever since I first got the inspiration from my visit to Hackspace in Wembley four years ago. Whilst many museums have maintenance workshops, these are often hidden back-of-house spaces and are not accessible to the public. When tasked with developing a business plan for the museum, I identified a number of our facilities as valuable resources that could be made available to the community. Getting the community especially young people into engineering and STEM-based subjects is critical for industrial museums like the Pumphouse to be preserved long into the future. Whilst Walthamstow is a rich hub with many creative and art resources, I believe there is a lack of affordable and accessible spaces focusing on creative engineering and STEM. One of the goals of The Tool House is to pass down the knowledge and skills that the existing museum volunteers have to a new generation of craftspeople, makers, designers and creatives. We also wanted the space to be as accessible as possible so we devised a unique system whereby members can either pay a low-cost fee or volunteer their time and get access in-kind.
How did the collaboration between the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum and The Fixatorium lead to The Tool House?
Sean was introduced to me by one of our volunteers and he signed up as a volunteer, initially to help with our model railway. Sean runs his own studio (known as The Fixatorium) down the road from the museum and is best known for the mini food banks dotted around Walthamstow. I mentioned the idea of the community workshop to him, and he was super keen, so the collaboration was born! Without Sean’s help and energy, The Tool House Is unlikely to have launched this year.
What are the main goals of The Tool House and how does it benefit the community?
One of the main goals of The Tool House is to get people into traditional creative skills, DIY engineering and practical STEM-based subjects. We also look to deliver a sustainable, meaningful and lasting impact, something many community organisations fail to deliver. Already we provide the community with an affordable working space and a mixture of low-cost or free courses on DIY and 3D printing. We are still working on a variety of courses for electronics, upcycling and courses aimed at children. We have worked extensively with Waltham Forest Collage providing young people with crucial hands-on experience, particularly with building and carpentry. Our collaboration with the Forest Fixers is another great example of how meaningful partnerships can come together to benefit the community by providing free electrical repairs and eventually training. We also work with Waltham Forest Council to provide free bicycle maintenance workshops locally.
What equipment and facilities are available at The Tool House? How can local residents access them?
We are building up our facilities all the time and we currently offer shared working spaces with carpentry tools, 3D printing facilities and hobbyist electronic facilities. You can book online to get access or contact us to get a tour.
Where is The Tool House located, and when is it open to the public?
We are located at the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum, near St. James’s Street. We are currently open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
How can someone become a member of The Tool House or find out more?
You can join via our website at thetool.house and sign up to our mailing list. Updates are provided regularly on Instagram @toolhousee17
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