Lord Melvyn Bragg gives talk at Kensal Green church to raise funds for library campaigners

Lord Melvyn Bragg with his vicar daughter Marie-Elsa Bragg at St Martin's Church, Mortimer Road in K

Lord Melvyn Bragg with his vicar daughter Marie-Elsa Bragg at St Martin's Church, Mortimer Road in Kensal Green to give support to public libraries Pic credit: Allen Samuels - Credit: Archant

Novelist and arts broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg visited a church in Kensal Green to speak out on his support for public libraries and raise funds for campaigners.

A community-run library will open in the closed branch next year

A community-run library will open in the closed branch next year - Credit: Archant

Lord Melvyn delivered a talk at the annual Mark Twain Lecture held at St Martin’s Church in Mortimer Road, at an event organised by the Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL).

The author of more than 30 books and also known as a presenter on TV arts programme The Southbank Show, Lord Melvyn spoke on the history of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, the setting for his 21st novel ‘Now Is The Time’.

Recalling the key role his own local library played during his upbringing in the Cumbrian town of Wigton, he said: “Libraries are the essential oxygen of the mind. I don’t know what I would have done without it. Reading was very important to me. I owe an enormous amount to libraries.’

The event was held to raise funds for a community library to be opened next year on the ground floor of the old Kensal Rise Library building, the rest of which is being converted for residential use.

The library, in Bathurst Gardens, was opened by Mark Twain in 1900 and donated to All Souls College in Oxford who in turn donated it to Brent Council who handed it back.

FKRL had their library listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in 2012, before it was sold by All Souls College to a private developer.

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The developer obtained permission to convert it into flats with a community space for a library, and then controversially put it up for auction with a guide price of £1.25m last December, where it failed to sell.

It was sold in May to Uplift properties who have planning approval for the ground floor community library and five apartments above.

Campaigners are looking to raise £100,000 for fitting out and equipping the new library space and to cover its first year’s running costs.

Margaret Bailey, chair of FKRL, said: “We were honoured by the support of so eminent a speaker as we embark on the next chapter in our campaign - fitting out and running our library.

“This is an enormous responsibility for our community but we are determined to get there, determined to put a library at the heart of our community once again.”

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