A Walk and Two Libraries

The rain is being thrown against the windows tonight, but this morning was glorious, and a windy day meant even the heaviest washing on the line dried thoroughly.

Celia and I set off from the Elysian fields of sunny Walworth to visit the not so deep south where Denmark Hill meets Herne Hill. There are roads leading off the main road that we only ever seem to see from the bus. Time for some initial explorations. En route we passed the site of a newly demolished house. It reminded us of bombsites. This fireplace was presumably blocked up and the grate left undisturbed for decades until the house was pulled down. It looks like the sticks that had been placed in it for a fire that was never lit were also immured. My guess is it will end up in an antique shop somewhere and fetch a tidy sum.

Fireplace

Fireplace

It would be ironic if the purchaser were one of those incomers who have just realised that south east London’s grittiness suddenly flavour of the month.

Gentrification

Gentrification

I needed the loo, so we diverted to the newest local library. My preoccupation with my bladder may explain why I didn’t photograph the exterior. There are some historic items in the foyer, including this one celebrating the number of local men who signed up to fight in the First world war. It was hours later before I thought to wonder if my great uncles were among them.

 Recruitment


Recruitment

The library is small but well stocked. I only borrowed one book, but may have to go back for Jeannette Winterson’s Gap in Time.

Fiction W

Fiction W

Back on track, we climbed Denmark Hill, wondering when the new helipad at King’s will be finished, and then turned off the main drag into a wide street that could have been in deepest suburbia.

Celia in suburbia

Celia in suburbia

It was very quiet. We gazed at the houses, tried to work out which bits had been added or restored, admired flowering magnolias. As a neighbourhood it makes our own seem irredeemably urban. I was quite ready to move in. In fact I found a house, three in fact, a little terrace . Not a big one, but I have a weakness for round windows. Fortunately none of them was for sale so I haven’t had to swallow my disappointment at not being able to afford one.

Small and beautifully formed

Small and beautifully formed

My eye was caught by a building a littel distance away that was made of warm red brick. We went to investigate. A library.

Warm brick

Warm brick

But not for much longer. Lambeth is taking the axe to its libraries, and this is one that is due to close at the end of March. I have a feeling future generations will reinvent this wheel and we shall see a resurgence in libraries if we live long enough, because once they have gone, people will slowly wake up to their need. It would be nice if this lovely Grade II listed building could one day resume its original function.

I’m off east again tomorrow, not sure if there’ll much opportunity for posting or reading, but hopefully I shall get some pictures of the countryside in spring mode.

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6 thoughts on “A Walk and Two Libraries

  1. Pretty little houses with round windows lovely!What a shame about the library…I feel quite strongly as my work background is in libraries and their importance as you say is never realised until they are gone….have a safe trip east and hope you get some more sorting done, is Master B going again too? Oh have you sold the egg coddler?

    • Aren’t they just? The houses all around are large. Ruskin Park is a stone’s throw away even if you are no good at throwing stones. I didn’t know you had a librarian background. I am sickened by what is happening to our libraries. Without access to a good public library my life would have been immeasurably impoverished. There is a newish display in the Bm of Ashurbanipal II’s library. It’s wonderful.
      No I still own the egg coddlers! Am heading off to continue clearing and attend the funeral. MasterB will stay at home looked are by B and J.

      • Yes, 20 years in libraries, reference, local history and archives! Hope that all goes well in the east and that all your arrangements work out as planned, and that Master B is happier at home with his chums…safe journeys…

  2. Is that Carnegie Library of the same lineage as the ones in the US? Endowed by Andrew Carnegie? Suppose it will end up as a block of luxury flats, retail on the ground floor?.

    • Yes, same man. The plan appears to be to make it a local hub, but managed by an organisation with a dubious track record, some books will be there, but they want to use the large internal space as a gym despite there being no evidence of local demand for one. Check it out on google, Carnegie library Herne Hill Road.

  3. The gentrification photo is pretty powerful. We’ve begun to struggle with that again here as recovery from the recession continues and the housing market has rebounded (every bit as aggressively grotesque in its methods as those that caused the collapse in the first place). Sigh. The bright side is that in the last election cycle, we gave our libraries a nice boost; of all the things we throw money at, it’s hard to believe how badly we let services like libraries languish.

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