The Carnegie Library – Phase 1

The first phase of refurbishment work on Erith’s iconic Carnegie Building was completed in February 2019 with local company, The Exchange, now offering to the public The Conversation Room, an area for creativity and community events as well as The Bookstore Cafe, a fantastic new space for freshly produced food and drink.

Council officers have worked closely with Historic England and The Exchange to ensure that the refurbishment of the lower ground area was carried out in a way that preserves the character of the building. The improvements included the restoration of the historic weathervane and full replacement of the roof of the building.

Below is a brief summary of Phase 1 of the project:

Summer 2018

A £1.6m regeneration project was agreed between the London Borough of Bexley and The Exchange Ltd with plans to offer cultural, artistic and designer studios and workshop space for creative businesses to make and sell products.

Initially hopes were high that the iconic building’s roof could be repaired, however investigations showed that all of it needed to be replaced.

Work begian to replace the roof of the Carnegie building and renovate its interior, by specialist refurbishment and heritage contractor, Lengard. 


November/December 2018

Local company, The Exchange hosted a free exhibition and auction by arts project Centrepieces, encompassing painting, sculpture, mask making and photography.

The Exchange also hosted a three-week Pop-up Cinema in the building. This cinematic treat saw poetry, classic literature, short stories, comics and graphic novels all get the big screen treatment.

February 2019

The first phase of refurbishment work on Erith’s iconic Carnegie Building were completed, with The Exchange officially occupying the building and opening it to the public from 1 February.


The Bookstore Cafe has become a great local success story and remains popular with residents and tourists, with over 25,000 visitors to the building since its opening. Check out The Exchange website for all the latest news and initiatives. 

In February 2020, London Borough of Bexley and The Exchange have successfully secured funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to complete the second phase of refurbishment.