This idea sprang from the experience the
founder of THE CHURCHILL SOCIETY had during 1975/6 when the Inner
London Education Authority - known as the ILEA (no longer in
existence) - expanded a small adult evening carpentry class in
Brixton in South London into a 5 day a week, three sessions per day,
course. He taught there three days a week.
The ILEA's idea of using these facilities more intensively was an
attempt to motivate unemployed youths to come off the streets and try
their hand at making for themselves simple items of furniture.
The scheme had a number of unexpected results.
After the news had circulated that there were to be three hour
daytime courses, there was a strong demand from retired men to attend
- especially service men - many of whom travelled 40 to 50 miles.
Once up and running the next thing that was observed was how much
more successful the classes were when the number of retired men in
the class matched the numbers of youths (some formerly very difficult
youngsters sent under court probation orders).
From the moment the daytime courses began it became evident that
there was a huge demand for the use of woodworking machinery, good
hand tools, and spacious workshop facilities by people from all walks
The scheme closed down a year or two later after the dismantling
by the government of the Greater London Council. The Brixton riots
took place a few years later.
The absence of workshop facilities in or near peoples homes - in
which the young - and not so young - can pull apart their bikes or
make things - is the cause of much youthful boredom, frustration and
The Churchill Society has been given the hand tools and machinery
a first class cabinet and joinery workshop for this purpose and this
at present it is paying to keep in storage. It would like to promote
a similar scheme but one expanded to include also metal work so that
youths could learn how to renovate and maintain old cars and in so
doing learn about their driving responsibilities.
To run such a scheme successfully requires not only careful
thought in the planning stages, but practical experience in many
different fields. It poses many problems, the most difficult being
how to make it create a sufficient income to cover most of its
The society believes that only self help is of any value to young
people and that at all times the people who use the workshops should
know and properly understand the cost of the facilities they use.
The Brixton experience proved that classes were only successful
when the tutors were able and dedicated men who had the authority to
instantly ban troublemakers. To obtain the services of such men is
difficult and therefore requires a proper pay, career, and pension
The cost of suitable premises, its heating, maintenance and
insurance and administration will be considerable and whilst fees
could be charged to retired and employed people who use the
facilities; the unemployed, will not be able to pay
So the proper funding of these workshops must be addressed before
anything else is discussed.
Experience in Brixton showed that the success rate for the
completion of projects by attendants was high, but of course some
failed to complete their projects.
The society is anxious to put the equipment it has been given to
proper use, but has no funds or suitable premises, or indeed the
personnel capable of setting up and running an experimental scheme in
a deprived inner city area.
This can only be done with the financial and active practical help
of local industry and commerce.
We are posting this page in the hope of receiving receiving your
comments and offers of help.