Blackhorse Workshop - credit Jim Stephenson
Horse Power: The Blackhorse Workshop wants us to get practical. Photograph: Jim Stephenson

Relying on Youtube videos to do jobs around the house such as putting up curtains or fixing a chair is not unusual, though it’s ironic how these newly-established technologies are being used to learn practical skills that have seemingly been around since the dawn of time.

Blackhorse Workshop in Walthamstow is out to address the problem. The newly opened building seeks to channel the spirit of public libraries by becoming a place for shared knowledge, with tools, machinery and skilled technicians on hand to offer advice and assistance to members of the public.

Housed in a former industrial building specially converted by architecture and design collective Assemble, the workshop has been running talks, classes and events since last November, but officially launched last month at an event that saw Waltham Forest Council Leader Chris Robbins ceremoniously cut a ‘ribbon’ made of wood using a saw.

At the launch, workshop volunteers busied themselves making individual letters for the workshop’s sign. Zakiyma, 19, an architecture student, is busy fashioning the letter ‘R’ using rope lighting backed on to wood. “The best thing is that you get to see what other people are doing,” she said. Aaron, 24, is a prop-maker, but doesn’t have the space or resources to experiment at home. He said: “There are some really good teachers here and you can learn metal work, gilding and lighting.”

Given Walthamstow’s arts and crafts and manufacturing heritage, the workshop is well-situated, and the two-storey space will lend resources, including wood and metal working equipment, as well as offer space for assembly and construction.

Maria Lisogorskaya, director of Assemble, claims the workshop is about making resources available to more people. “We want the public workshop to integrate the knowledge of tactile processes into everyday city life,” she says.

Members of the public are welcome to visit the workshop, including the café and bar run by Hornbeam Bakers Collective. Using the bench space does come at a cost, however. A one-off day membership is 18 per day, though regular membership works out cheaper and discounts are available for those on a low income, recently graduated or out of work.

Blackhorse Workshop, 1–2 Sutherland Road Path, E17 6BX 

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