BY JAMES TWOMEY
An early 20th century Grade-II listed library has finished its first phase of refurbishment after being closed for 10 years.
The Carnegie Library opened in 1906 when Erith town centre was a buzzing industrial town on the banks of the Thames.
It closed in 2009 due to rising maintenance costs.
A local company, The Exchange, is now set to occupy the building after work between Bexley council and Historic England ensured the building was refurbished in the style of its original architecture.
Councillor Louie French, Bexley’s deputy leader and cabinet member for growth said: “It’s wonderful to see this beautiful old building being brought back into use for the benefit of the local community.
“Erith is one of the main locations that will gain from our ambitious growth strategy for the borough.
We want to make the area a thriving riverside town centre once again.”
The refurbishment has been funded by the town hall and the Mayor of London as part of the Greater Erith Programme and joins a major regeneration scheme taking place in Erith to provide a mix of housing, new business premises and leisure uses.
The lower ground area of the building will be open to the public from February 14 who can enjoy The Conversation Room, an area for creativity and community events, as well as The Bookstore Cafe, which will be run by local chef Martha Power.
Sarah Batten, co-director of The Exchange, a social enterprise firm, said: “We are so excited to launch our programme in February – there will be lots for people to do, including exhibitions, performances, kitchen garden planting, sewing and embroidery classes and film nights.
We look forward to welcoming the community back into the building.”