Closed Tumbles finds a new home but still faces uncertainty

Dorell Bravo - Tumbles on Railton Road (Credit: Antonio Sansica)
Dorrell Bravo at the original Tumbles site on Railton Road (Credit: Antonio Sansica)

When Dorrell Bravo was forced to close Tumbles, his laundrette-cum-community centre in Railton Road, Brixton lost a beacon of support for many of its residents. Bravo went out of his way to serve local people, developing a system for collecting clothes from elderly folk, pregnant women and mothers with young children: individuals who find it difficult to lug laundry back and forth. Bravo would then wash the garments and then bring them back to their owners, at no extra cost than if they had walked in.

It provided precious help for many people struggling to cope on their own or with young children. However, the lifeline provided by Tumbles was brought to an end when its original site was developed into flats, an all-too-familiar story in Brixton today.

Bravo has since looked elsewhere to find a place to find homes for his huge washing machines. And at last, he has found a new location raising hopes that he can resume business and once again provide wash-day help for locals – though these plans are by no means certain. Tumbles still needs approval from the council and searches for funding have yet to get up and running.

Nevertheless, Bravo says he is extremely pleased he has managed to find another location on Railton Road as “it is important to me to stay part of the community”. Among the hurdles he faces is the need to get planning permission from the council to use the space as a laundrette and dry cleaners.

Bravo also needs to install his machines and remove the dirt and rubble from the new location which is in poor condition and needs thousands of pounds of work to make it functional. “I’m looking into a loan or to find an investor,” says Bravo who insists he wants to raise the money in the right way as he wants to maintain control of Tumbles. So much of what he does is not  for profit but is community based, he adds.

In the meantime, Bravo is still maintaining the service for some of his least mobile customers. It means taking the clothes to another laundry in Stockwell, at a cost to himself.

Clean laundry is an essential, he insists. “It is often overlooked, but it is important for people to wear clean clothes every day. The elderly customers I bring clothes to are struggling and unable to do it themselves, but they want to put on a clean shirt in the morning.”

The key point, he adds, is that he wants to help people. “The richness is not in money,” he says, “quality service and appreciation, that is the richness.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Does nobody have contact details for dorrell this is very frustrating NOT having my shirts. Trading standards next stop…

  2. Do you know how I contact him? He has some of my clothes and I was in hospital while it closed so couldn’t pick them up….

  3. Its such a shame that all these longstanding businesses have been forced to find other premises due to more flats in Brixton. The place is becoming congested due the amount of new people on the streets……..takes away the community feel unfortunately,
    Am so happy Tumbles have found another venue in the vacinity. We need these business to stay in Brixton. Brixton was great the way it was, vibrant, bubbling community. Brixton does not need any more Sainsbury’s or other supermarkets you can go to Clapham for that!!

  4. Dorrell could crowd find this – I’d definitely contribute. I was very sad when I saw the sign outside Tumbles saying that they had to move.

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