Putting Erith’s Old Library back at the heart of the community

London Borough of Bexley and The Exchange have successfully secured National Lottery funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore the entire Grade II listed Old Carnegie Library in Erith.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has committed £980,000 towards a £1.8m project that will transform the upper two floors of unused space into new community workshops for textiles, woodwork, print, ceramics and gardening. The main central hall will be refurbished for community-led activities, including markets, exhibitions, festivals, concerts and performances.  A unique local garden will also be created by the award-winning garden designer Sarah Price, with much of the growing, done by local school children and families.

Cllr Louie French, Bexley’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Growth said:

“This latest round of funding is good news for local people as it means that the entire building can be brought fully back into use for the benefit of the community. It’s a year since we finished the first phase of our investment, which saw the restoration of the lower ground area, the weathervane and full replacement of the roof of the building. We’ve been working hard with our partners since then to ensure that the rest of this beautiful building can be fully restored and it’s good to see that our hard work has paid off.”

In February 2019, as part of its partnership project with the Mayor of London, the ‘Greater Erith Programme’, Bexley officially handed management of the building to local company The Exchange. Since then over 25,000 people have visited the building and participated in a variety of community activities and events and enjoyed its new bar and café ‘The Bookstore’. The Exchange and its partners have continued to source and secure additional funding. You can find out more about this at www.theexchangeerith.com @exchangeerith

Sarah Batten, Co-Founder of The Exchange, said:

“The success of our National Lottery application is down to the Erith and wider community who have given us so much support over the past 12 months. With every visit to the café, every event attended, every kind donation or offer of support, it becomes more and more evident that this new future for the building can be achieved. There is still more work to be done, and funds to be raised, but we are confident that the beautiful historic building’s future will be secured.”

Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the historic Old Carnegie Library will be brought back into use for the community of Erith. An exciting programme of events and activities will ensure the heritage of the building and the stories of the people who have passed through its doors will remain at the heart of its future.”