Posts Tagged ‘library’

More from Battersea & Clapham, 1988

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

I often went to Battersea in the 1980s though more often to look at and discuss photographs at the Photo Co-op which was based in Webbs Road than to take pictures. I wasn’t deeply involved but became a regular attender when they set up a ‘Men’s Group’ to look at issues around gender from a male perspective, though I don’t think I contributed much to it.

Altenburg Gardens,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-32-positive_2400
Altenburg Gardens, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

I was a little put out when the Photo Co-op changed its name to Photofusion and moved to more extensive premises in Brixton, though I did usually attend openings there and contributed quite a few pictures to its photo library.

With its new name and much improved premises it became a larger and less intimate organisation – and it’s location was also less convenient for me, with a half hour bus journey rather than a ten minute walk from Clapham Junction. And although London buses are generally very frequent (and in most respects now much improved) I spent too much time waiting at a draughty bus stop in Brixton on my way home after openings.

Gardens,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-33-positive_2400
Battersea Library, Altenburg Gardens, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988
Battersea Library, Altenburg Gardens,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-34-positive_2400
Battersea Library, Altenburg Gardens, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

This charming Arts & Crafts style reference library by Henry Hyams was built in 1924 for the Metropolitan Borough of Battersea, adjoining the older library building and was Grade II listed in 1983.

Lavender Hill, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-23-positive_2400
Lavender Hill, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

Although several properties in this picture were for sale, there is no estate agents on this stretch of street and I think it is hard to find one in my pictures of the area. Walking up Lavender Hill more recently it seemed hard to find a shop that wasn’t an estate agents, which seem to be about the only profitable businesses left in London. Huge rises in property prices and increased mobility due to gentrification have created an enormous expansion in this area.

Wandsworth Rd, Newby St, Lambeth, 1988 88-2e-13-positive_2400
Wandsworth Rd, Newby St, Lambeth, 1988

Unless you ride a bike it’s easy to forget that parts of London are quite hilly as this slope down towards the River Thames from Wandsworth Rd in Clapham demonstrates.

Bingo, Wandsworth Rd Snooker Centre, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988 88-2e-12-positive_2400
Bingo, Wandsworth Rd Snooker Centre, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988

Built in 1909 it was one of at least 24 Temperance Billiard Halls in South London built for the Temperance Billiard Hall Co. Ltd, founded in Pendelton Lancashire. Like most or all of those in the early years it was designed by Norman Evans, and there are other examples nearby in Clapham High St and Battersea. Despite this alcohol-free start, the building later became a bar and even a night club.

Until a few years ago it was Rileys, offering a Bar with Pool and Snooker tables. In 2015 the building was gutted, retaining its facade with a rather ugly plain block replacing the rear of the building, now a hotel. It’s something of a mystery how planning permission was obtained, although unlike several others, this hall was not listed. Probably the panels across its frontage shown in my picture were part of the reason for this, and at least the conversion to a hotel has revealed or provided an unencumbered aspect, even if it is only a brick or two thick.

Thomas Memorial, Church of the Nazarene, Temperance Billiard Hall, Battersea Rise, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2d-25-positive_2400
Thomas Memorial, Church of the Nazarene, Temperance Billiard Hall, Battersea Rise, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

Another Temperance Billiard Hall in Battersea, also unlisted. Again it is no longer a Billiard Hall and is now a pub, with a rather large new building behind. It remained in use as a busy snooker hall until the mid 1990s, open – and usually busy – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Converted as the Faraday and Firkin, a brew-pub, which opened in 1997, it later became O’Neills and is now The Goat.

The front of the church at left partly dates from 1823 when the building was owned and lived in by local merchant William Mellersh who enlarged it from a cottage dating from the 1750s. In 1858 it became the home of the Wandsworth District Board of Works who extended and embellished it, naming it Mellish House, there were further additions behind but it still became too small after Battersea gained its independence from Wandsworth in 1888 and they built a new town hall on Lavender Hill.

Still owned by Battersea, it served various purposes including being home to the Boy’s Brigade and the YMCA from 1890 until 1915. It was then bought by the International Holiness Mission founded in 1906 by Battersea drapers and pentecostalists John and David Thomas and was renamed the Thomas Memorial Church after David Thomas died in 1938. The IHM joined the Church of the Nazarenes in 1953. A major internal refurbishment was begun in 2011 with the church closing and reopening, still as a Nazarene church but known as Fresh Ground London.

More in 1988 London Photos.

Friern Barnet Celebrates – Feb 5th 2013

Friday, February 5th, 2021

Friern Barnet Library supporters celebrated victory in overturning Barnet Council’s closure decision in a ceremony in which the Occupy squatters who had prevented its sale handed over the library keys to the local community who will now run it.

The victory by local residents, squatters and activists from the Occupy Movement against Barnet Council is not just a local matter, but one of national (and possibly even international) importance. A great example of democracy in action it shows how a combination of campaiging, lobbying, direct action and making use of the law can win against bureacracy and greed.

Today residents and squatters came together to celebrate their victory after Barnet had agreed to lease the building to a community company set up to run it as a library, Friern Barnet Community Library (FBCL).

Friern Barnet Library Victory Celebration

Eight years on, the library is still run by the community and up until closure for Covid lockdown, a thriving centre of community activities. Local residents had set up the ‘Save Friern Barnet Library Group’ when they heard that Barnet Council were proposing to close the library, and organised petitions, lobbied councillors, organised events and got the media involved, but the council wouldn’t listen to them and went ahead and shut it in April 2012. The council saw the site – including the large green space outside as a valuable site for sale to private developers rather than the community asset it was.

In September 2012 community activist squatters, including some who had been part of Occupy London, entered the library and re-opened it, beginning a long occupation. At first some local residents were wary of associating themselves in this direct action, but soon began to work with the squatters to re-establish library services.

The council went to court to regain possession of the building, but in December the judge ruled that they had to try to negotiate some form of licence to keep the library open to preserve proportionality between the rights of protesters and of the council. Eventually they agreed to allow a community company to run it as a library

At the celebration inside the library, the occupiers (at left above) handed over the library keys to the FBCL (at right), and we all cheered before getting down to the serious business of eating the cakes and dancing around the green outside.

But some of the press photographers covering the event weren’t happy with the pictures they had (or rather hadn’t got) of the handover, and later got the two groups to restage it outside the library. It just goes to show that you should never believe what you see in the newspapers. Of course as you can see I photographed it too, but made sure my captions made clear it was staged for the photograph rather than the actual handover. Some photographers don’t see it as important, but for me it crosses a vital line of journalistic integrity – it’s my job to record not to stage events.

People went out to dance around the paved area and green spaces in front of the library which are used to hold community events.

The local councillor who had supported the residents then cut a tape to let us all back into the library, where there were some more speeches before getting down to continuing the serious business of celebration.

This was the ‘bookworm cake’ and it took a lot of candles and quite a while to light them all,

but was blown out fairly quickly, and later we all ate some.

Many more pictures at Friern Barnet Library Victory Celebration.


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