Saturday, 24 November 2012

Another way to privatise – flog your library building!

I was sent this fascinating, but worrying, piece by someone who wishes to remain anonymous for very good reasons!

Another way to privatise – flog your library building!
Private School to take over site of North Kensington Library?
About ten years ago the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) allowed a new exclusive private school, Notting Hill Prep. to lease the building next door to North Kensington Library .
The new school was backed by E Scott Mead, an American banker who had recently retired from Goldman Sachs. It was felt that this exclusive school was needed as the bankers who lived in the area did not want to send their kids to pleb schools. This is ironic as in 1895 the Campden Charities had built this building to be a school to educate the ‘poor of the area’. The school called the Campden Technical Institute. Since then the Notting Hill Prep has expanded, taking over more Council land to use as a playground extension, and also buying up the former Belgo Zuid restaurant (on 124 Ladbroke Grove). It has been rumoured for a long time that they have had their eye on the building next door, North Kensington Library.
The Library was opened in 1891 and for many years was the only purpose built Library in Kensington. It is a listed building and its facade owes much to the architect Henry Wilson who was one the most inspired practitioners of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  The Library is located on junction of Ladbroke Grove and Lancaster Road, near Portobello Market. This area has been traditionally been the poorer side of Kensington. RBKC have just announced a project to redevelop its buildings and facilities in the area this includes a proposal to build “a brand new North Kensington library” near the present site, but off the main street and will be probably much smaller. 

Meanwhile the plans for purpose built present North Kensington Library are that it would be ..

”be retained as a great asset capable of generating revenue for the Council and thus for the community. Educational use is one of a number of options that the Council is considering for the building”.

My money is that this has something to do with the exclusive school next door...


  1. Interesting - if this turns out to be one of the first moves resulting from the formation of the 'Tri-borough' library authority in Kensington, Chelsea, Hammersmith, Fulham and Westminster. K&C have a huge budget to run a tiny handful of libraries - and the North Kensington library could be absolutely fabulous if it were used properly. Terrible scandal, if this happens

  2. I noticed a report in May that discussed this prospect:
    "North Kensington Library May Relocate" in Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle,

  3. I used to visit the N Kensington library many years ago. It is a lovely building and I hope it remains for community use and isn't taken into private hands. It is such a shame that so many buildings are being lost to private institutions or being sold for profit. Property values are destroying the few remaining 'public squares' in our communities. What will remain?