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Friends of Kensal Rise Library to host community open day on Saturday

PUBLISHED: 12:25 02 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:25 02 June 2015

Kensal Rise Library was closed by the council in 2011

Kensal Rise Library was closed by the council in 2011

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Campaigners are holding a community day at Kensal Rise Library to launch their partnership with the building’s new owners.

Maggie Gee and fellow writer Philip Pullman, supporters to save Kensal Rise LibraryMaggie Gee and fellow writer Philip Pullman, supporters to save Kensal Rise Library

Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) are inviting residents to the event on Saturday where they can meet Uplift Properties, a company that specialises in the restoration of Victorian properties, and see the plans for the building’s refurbishment including plans for a community library space.

Margaret Bailey, chairwoman of FKRL, which was formed to stop the library from being closed by the council, said: “Residents know how significant this moment is for the community. It has been a long and hard-fought campaign and we can now look forward to having the library at the heart of Kensal Rise once more.

“We have been in talks with Uplift Properties and we believe that their refurbishment will be sympathetic and they have taken seriously the importance of the library and public space for this community.”

Kensal Rise Library was opened by Mark Twain in 1900 and donated to All Souls College in Oxford who in turn donated it to Brent Council.

Young protestors outside Kensal Rise LibraryYoung protestors outside Kensal Rise Library

Brent Council closed the library in 2011 and it was sold to a private developer who after obtaining permission to convert it into flats with a community space for a library he controversially put up for auction with a guide price of £1.25million last December.

It failed to sell under the hammer but has since been sold to Uplift Properties.

Maggie Gee OBE, author and a long-time supporter of the campaign and Kensal Rise resident, said: “The community, schoolchildren, parents, teenagers, old people has fought long and doggedly for the library.

“They never gave up and, even after the library’s doors closed, kept books available to everyone with a pop-up library, even when there was snow on the ground. In fact, you might say that it was ‘the readers wot won it!’”

Library campaigners outside the High CourtLibrary campaigners outside the High Court

The event marks a fresh start after years of campaigning that have made the much loved local library a rallying point in the national fight against library cuts.

Peter Cadwallader, director of Uplift Properties, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to restore this lovely building in a way which not only creates new homes but allows the community to bring back a much loved library and gathering place after a long and effective campaign.

“We have the upmost respect for the history associated with the building and the determined campaigning shown by locals to maintain a library service in the area.”

The branch was closed alongside Barham, Cricklewood, Preston, Neasden, and Tokyngton to save £1m a year.

The open day will take place inside the library on Saturday from 1pm to 4pm.

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