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‘Start of Barking’s rise to cultural capital of east London’ – says council leader at The Boathouse launch

PUBLISHED: 17:32 03 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:28 06 October 2014

Mayor Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe ceremonially pours wine over a rowing boat the Boathouse to mark the opening of The Boathouse. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson.

Mayor Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe ceremonially pours wine over a rowing boat the Boathouse to mark the opening of The Boathouse. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson.

Archant

Another cornerstone in the creation of a cultural hub hoped to eventually rival that of Shoreditch was firmly set in place as The Boathouse arts and community venue was officially opened to the public.

(L-R) Boathouse directors Steve Drury, Carole Pluckrose & marketing manager Clair Bullen at the Ice House quarter opening, Barking. Picutre: Arnaud Stephenson(L-R) Boathouse directors Steve Drury, Carole Pluckrose & marketing manager Clair Bullen at the Ice House quarter opening, Barking. Picutre: Arnaud Stephenson

The building, which boasts an exhibition space and two studios, is home to a number of creative entrepreneurs and forms part of the emerging Ice House Quarter in Barking’s developing riverside district alongside the River Roding.

More than one hundred guests were treated to performances from young singers and actors from the local area at launch of the venue on Thursday.

Addressing the assembled guests at the venue, owned by Barking-based construction company Roof, council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell declared his grand ambitions for the area.

“This is the start of Barking becoming the cultural capital of East London”, he told more than one hundred assembled evening guests.

Singers from Finch Stage School perform in front of guests at The Boathouse opening. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson.Singers from Finch Stage School perform in front of guests at The Boathouse opening. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson.

Speaking to the Post earlier, Cllr Rodwell said the new quarter was “another piece in the jigsaw” and would “bring a much needed element” to the council’s strategy of turning Barking Town Centre into a cultural hub.

The launch of The Boathouse marks the completion of phase one of the Ice House Quarter development that includes the Granary, the Malthouse and residential flats Jute Court and the Ice House Court.

In 1865 the area was turned into a boatyard under local shipbuilder Joseph Honey. The idea of creating a cultural hub within the area was said to have first been touted some 16 years ago.

The Boathouse’s artistic director and Arc Theatre co-founder Carole Pluckrose said: “It’s very much about bringing the arts together in this beautiful place,” adding “it feels brilliant” too see it finally open.

From left, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Boathouse directors Steve Drury and Carole Pluckrose with mayor Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson.From left, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Boathouse directors Steve Drury and Carole Pluckrose with mayor Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson.

“It means that people can find themselves across the all of the arts. If a local person wants to do an exhibition, this is accessible for them to show their work for the first time,” she said.

“The thing is I don’t know what it’s going to do. Everything that has happened has been a surprise.”

Fellow director and Roof boss Steve Drury said that for the most ambitious project in arts and culture in Barking “this is it”.

Mayor Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe poured red wine over a rowing boat sat in the courtyard of the Ice House Quarter in a gesture symbolising the “launch” of The Boathouse that harkened back to ancient boat launching customs.


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