Celebrations with celebrity sparkle as Kensal Rise Library re-opens after lengthy battle

PUBLISHED: 10:41 26 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:42 26 September 2019

Kensal Rise Library. Picture: Margaret Bailey

Kensal Rise Library. Picture: Margaret Bailey


Expect a big party this weekend as an eight-year battle to re-open a library in Kensal Rise ends with a community-wide celebration.

Fundraiser has been launched to equip Kensal Rise Library with a children's corner. Picture: Jonathan GoldbergFundraiser has been launched to equip Kensal Rise Library with a children's corner. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Kensal Rise Community Library, in Bathurst Gardens, is launching with a Grand Opening Ceremony this Saturday at 2pm on the anniversary of its opening by Mark Twain in 1900.

The library was closed along with five others by Brent Council in 2011 to save £1million.

Since then the community has relentlessly campaigned, fundraised and finally, refurbished the replaced space.

The opening marks the triumph after fighting the council, the courts, developers, and All Souls College, Oxford.

The return and unveiling of the original Mark Twain plaque is central to Saturday's celebration.

Huckleberry Finn author Mark Twain opened the original Reading Room on September 27 1900.

Margaret Bailey, chair of trustees of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library, said: "The plaque was removed after the council closed the library and removed the books in a night-time raid on the library, hastening its return to the Oxford College.

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"We are heartened that our opening weekend coincides with the same date of the original opening by Mark Twain.

"He continues to be an inspiration."

The ceremony will include speeches from the local community, a reading by actor Tamsin Greig, a long time supporter of the library, and other guests.

"It has been a long, and at times, bitter struggle to get to where we are today.

"This is testament to the commitment and tireless work put in by our community who refused to give in when they came up against insurmountable odds.

"We fought hard and long for this day and we are proud of what we have achieved," Ms Bailey said.

"The struggle with running the library will be a continuing battle but for one day we will celebrate as a community our working together to save our library against incredible obstacles.

"We have fought to keep a library at the heart of our community. We believe libraries, and the role they play in uniting and strengthening communities, are important.

"We want and need places that bring us together and our library will do that."

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