We are looking for a New Home
Since the foundation of the club in 2016, LHFC have used small community halls for training and lessons. However, the lack of proper changing facilities leads to accessibility issues and the small size means our growth is constrained. A permanent location for Historical Fencing in London is the answer, built into a railway arch or an old warehouse unit, we will provide a new home for LHFC and all historical fencers in London and beyond.
Who are LHFC?
LHFC is a non-profit, member run club and a registered charity (registration number: 1181581). We were set up in 2016 with the goal of promoting HEMA through training, scholarship, competition, and tournaments.
We train several different weapons and sword fighting styles. The historical sources that form the basis of our teaching range from the high-Medieval period, through the Renaissance and into the Early Modern.
Unlike many Historical fencing organisations, LHFC is a members run club run by a committee of volunteers with classes taught by a team of instructors. The strength and depth of our volunteers and members allow the club to be extraordinarily resilient and adaptable.
At present LHFC trains five classes every week, split between two community halls in Kennington (KPC and KPCC). Both are quite small and therefore constrain our class size. In addition, if we wished to grow by launching a new class on a different night, we would incur further costs and would operate at a loss until this new class became established and later profitable.
What is more, despite both community organisations being incredibly helpful and receptive to our needs, we are inevitably at risk of having sessions cancelled, increases in rental costs, clashes with other community hall users and the general unpredictability of operating from a space which we have no control over.
A proposal has recently been submitted by owners of one of the community halls to redevelop it into a combination mixed use community space and more flats. This further underscores our need for a more permanent home.
Accessibility is a further concern. By using community halls which do not have specific sporting facilities, we cannot offer space for our members to change privately, nor to shower after a session. This makes it difficult to attract and retain members, especially those of marginalised genders or sexualities who are uncomfortable without dedicated changing facilities.
Hiring dedicated sporting facilities seemed like the obvious solution, at first. However, after extensive research it became apparent that sports halls and similar facilities in our area of London cannot offer us sufficient guaranteed, regular capacity. During our enquiries, we were frequently told by sports halls that we were welcome to reserve a date, but our reservation would be cancelled if their home teams decided they wanted to use the hall. The hiring costs of large, dedicated sports halls are far larger than our current venues and run contrary to our goals of keeping HEMA as accessible as possible.
We intend to acquire the lease to a railway arch or other light-industrial premises and convert the interior into a dedicated historical fencing venue. We are looking at venues of c. 2,500sqft capacity, and intend to dedicate the majority of the space to fencing and approximately one third to changing and showering facilities. This will give us approximately double the current capacity of either one of the halls we currently rent and therefore plenty of space to grow, as well as removing accessibility barriers by providing changing facilities.
Apart from the obvious benefits of increased space, we will also be able to use the space every night of the week, at no additional cost and for as long as we please. Simply put, we move our venue costs from variable (hiring halls by the hour) to fixed. In this way we can launch new classes, run events and expand the amount of fencing that we offer without concerns of affordability or availability of space.
As well as providing a permanent home for our club and all of the fringe benefits this will bring, such as equipment storage for members and shared equipment and flexibility of use, we intend to operate this space as a hub for the HEMA and Historical Fencing Communities in London and beyond. We will offer private hire of the space (at cost) to other fencing clubs to run their own sessions, we will run events for fencers from across the country and private hire to members for their own training and sparring when we otherwise aren’t running a class. What is more, we can also run sessions to improve the professionalism of HEMA throughout the UK. We currently have plans to run sessions on judge training, first aid workshops specific to fencing risks and injuries and events to test new tournament rules and develop the sport.
We also have plans to build a library of HEMA books and resources, free for members to use, to further our aims of promoting the study and development of historical fencing.
The increased community aspect of setting up this venue cannot be overstated. As a meeting place and hub for HEMA practitioners across London, the value of this space in building and maintaining connections and collaboration between clubs and organisations will be invaluable.
How you can help
The setup costs of such a project are expected to run to about £200k, followed by higher rental costs than we are currently paying. We have no doubt that the club will be able to grow both itself and the use of the space to make this project self-sustaining within three years, but this means that we need funding to bridge the gap, until then.
We are looking to work with charitable funders and granting organisations to turn this plan into a reality. For the larger costs, our preference is to build enduring relationship with a single or small number of large grantors. However, we welcome contributions towards other expenses such as additional equipment, furniture and décor, as well as the individual projects and events we run.
If you are a funding body, small or large, please feel free to get in touch with us to discuss how you can help. Individuals can also make small donations through our donations link at the bottom of the page
The Story So Far
Venue Plan is Conceived
While working on Strategy in the Pub, Dan Weir (Former Treasurer) and Dan Powell (Current Treasurer) determine the best way to grow is to increase capacity by moving venue costs from variable to fixed.
After extensive research of the available commercial and light-industrial premises in South London, we determine that a mid-size lined railway arch would be ideal for our needs.
We have undertaken a number of fundraising activities to kick-off the project, most notably our Raffle, which raised £3,800 for the project. We’re also running various social fundraisers and a 100Club.
We have engaged a Construction Project Manager to help with the project. Initial sketches of our proposed fit-out have allowed us to make high-level cost estimates for our CAPEX budget.
Commission New Promotional Videos
Putting our funding to good work, we have engaged a videographer to shoot two promotional videos (one long, one short) to help promote the club to both new Members and enable growth, and to illustrate our case to found a new venue.
We have also recently re-built our website to be more user-friendly for new members and to increase conversions from new students looking to get into HEMA
Establish New Legal Entity
LHFC has previously existed as an Unincorporated Association, registered as a Charity. We are launching a new legal entity; LHFC CIO, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. This will limited liability and make it easier to enter into leasehold contracts.
Secure Charitable Funding
With the above steps in place, our next task is to secure charitable funding to cover the legal fees, deposit and fit-out costs of the new venue as well as bridging our operating costs until we are at self-sustaining levels of activity.
Acquire Lease and Begin Fitout
With a good range of stock regularly coming onto the market in south-central London, once we have secured funding we will look to
Establish new volunteer and paid positions to support growth and administer the venue.
Launch New Venue
A big launch party to Re-Launch the club in our new home and to attract as many new users of the hall as we can possibly muster!