New funding from the National Lottery is to pave the way for the entire 100-year-old Old Carnegie Library in Erith to be fully restored.

Bexley Council and the Exchange, a group of local residents running a non-profit the aim of rebuilding the Grade II listed Old Library, announced that the National Lottery Heritage Fund has committed £980,000 towards the project.

The restoration, a £1.8 million project in total, will transform the upper two floors of unused space into new community workshop, refurbish the main central hall for large community-led activities and a local garden will also be created.

The Old Carnegie Library is rich in history, opening in 1903 as Erith's first public library.

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Designed by local architect William Egerton and made by local carpenters, blacksmiths, plumbers and plasters, the library served the community for over a hundred years but in 2009, the Old Library was forced to close after falling into disrepair.

Library services were moved, but in 2016 a group of local residents approached Bexley Council with a plan to rebuid the Old Library, setting up The Exchange with the aim of "re-establishing the building at the centre of community life."

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It was partially reopened in February 2019 after the first phase of building works funding by the council, adding a new roof and rescuing it from potential ruin.

Part of the 'Greater Erith Programme' in partnership with the Mayor of London, Bexley officially handed over management of the building to the exchange, and in the last year there have been more than 25,000 visits to the library.

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Cllr Louie French, Bexley’s deputy leader and Cabinet Member for Growth called the latest round of funding "good news for local people" as it means the entire building can be brought fully back into use "for the benefit of the community."

“It’s a year since we finished the first phase of our investment, which saw the restoration of the lower ground area, the weathervane and full replacement of the roof of the building.

"We’ve been working hard with our partners since then to ensure that the rest of this beautiful building can be fully restored and it’s good to see that our hard work has paid off.”

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The second phase of building work will see the upper two floors of unused space transformed into new community workshops for textiles, woodwork, print, ceramics and gardening.

The main central hall will be refurbished for community-led activities, including markets, exhibitions, festivals, concerts and performances.

A unique local garden will also be created by the award-winning garden designer Sarah Price, with much of the growing, done by local school children and families.

Sarah Batten, co-founder of The Exchange, said the success of the National Lottery application was "down to the Erith and wider community who have given us so much support over the past 12 months.

"With every visit to the café, every event attended, every kind donation or offer of support, it becomes more and more evident that this new future for the building can be achieved."

Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added: "“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the historic Old Carnegie Library will be brought back into use for the community of Erith.

"An exciting programme of events and activities will ensure the heritage of the building and the stories of the people who have passed through its doors will remain at the heart of its future.”