Plans to save and restore Erith's Old Library need £130,000 to be able to complete the project, and the organisers are calling on local residents help by investing in its future.

Bexley Council and 'The Exchange' are attempting to rebuild the entire 100-year-old Grade II listed Old Carnegie Library, and over the last three years have secured £3.5 million for the exciting repair and renovation.

The not-for-profit organisation says the project is not yet complete however, and needs a final £130,000 ro complete the remaining 'special features'.

To raise the funds, The Exchange is asking local people to invest in the library through Community Shares, becoming owners of the group and having a say in its future.

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During the pandemic, the social enterprise worked with Bexley Council and Orbit Housing on delivering a second-phase of renovation works that will bring the entire historic old library back into community use, as well as delivering emergency hot meals to the most vulnerable in the community.

The building works, delivered by local company GA Harpers and designed by Robin Lee Architecture, are scheduled to complete in late March, with The Exchange reopening to the public in late April/early May, depending on government restrictions.

The restoration, over £2m 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.

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At this point, 'it is over to The Exchange and local residents to fit the building out using new Craft Skills Workshop spaces for Woodwork, Ceramics, Print, Textiles and Gardens.'

The group said: "This approach builds on the community heritage of the Old Library, where back in 1906 local people were responsible for the designing and building of this impressive historic structure."

The final £130,000 is needed for all the really special features that people want to see restored, including the Edwardian toilets, the mosaic featuring the town’s coat of arms, and the wrought iron railings that were previously removed.

Investments start at just £20, and organisations as well as individuals can invest. Every investor will have an equal vote and a say on the important issues facing The Exchange and its work in the community.

You can also stand for and be elected to the board, and in a few year’s time, get your money back. For everyone giving over £100, you also get 30% tax relief and 3% annual interest on your investment.

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."

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 prior to Covid there have been more than 25,000 visits to the library.

More information can be found here.