The Erith Exchange — formerly the Old Library — has received almost £1 million in extra funding for a new round of ambitious renovations.

Erith's new vibrant hub of arts and culture underwent its initial transformation into The Exchange last year, and has since had over 25,000 visits so far.

Together with the London Borough of Bexley, the team behind the exchange announced on Tuesday (February 25) £980,000 in funding for new renovations from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The funding will go towards further renovations of the Old Library building that will likely cost around £1.8 million in total.

A spokesperson for The Exchange described the team's plans for what to do with the money after announcing the funding boost:

"The funding will enable the complete renovation of the second and third floors of the Old Library, which will house a stunning vaulted events arena for concerts, markets and festivals as well as a series of upgraded workshops dedicated to sharing making skills with local people," they said.

Since its opening, The Exchange has seen almost 1,500 people visiting on a weekly basis to take advantage of the plethora of cultural activities and events on offer, many of them entirely free and open.

Among the most popular are the Bookstore, which hosts Head Chef Louisa Budds who trained under Marcus Wareing, and regularly puts on events like open mic nights as well as peddling literature.

Other highlights at the hub include yoga classes, performances from a youth theatre company, and workshops where attendees can learn textiles, wood work, ceramics and printing.

Bexley Borough's Deputy Leader, Councillor Louie French, described what a boon the new funding would be for residents:

"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," she pointed out.

Erith resident and Exchange Co-Founder Sarah Batten meanwhile spoke about the team's soaring ambitions for the centre with the funding boost after a successful first year.

"We want The Exchange to become the beating heart of Erith," she said.

"A place that enriches lives, that local people feel ownership of and that the local community takes a real pride in.

"The fact that tens of thousands have gone out of their way to discover and enjoy it in its first year speaks volumes.

"We’re answering a real need with a unique, vibrant space that can bring joy for decades to come," she added.

The Exchange is entirely non-profit and, while many of the events it stages are free, all funds it raises itself go back into improving the cultural hub itself.

Over the next 12 months, the ambitious renovation works will take place alongside a packed events programme including both free and paid events including:

• FREE: Family Craft Weekends, last Saturday of every month from 2-4pm

• FREE: Jazz Sundays, on the fourth Sunday of every month from 12-2pm in The Bookstore

• FREE: Open Mic nights, on the third Thursday of every month from 7.30-10pm in The Bookstore, to hear local talent from rapping and poetry to blues and folk

• FREE: Embroidery Sundays: stitch, connect and chat every Sunday from 11-1pm in our Textile workshop

• FREE: History tours of The Exchange, every Saturday from 3pm

• Life Drawing classes, every Thursday from 7-9pm, £8 per session

• Carnegie Ensemble concert, 24th April 2020, £10

• FREE: An exhibition of new design work inspired by the works of Bexleyheath resident William Morris, from 18th March in The Bookstore

• FREE: Mother’s Day Weekend Plant Fair and workshops with Peckham partners L’Appartemente