Kensal Rise is a melting-pot of culture, faith, and class, and the Library has been at the heart of this community ever since Mark Twain opened its doors 111 years ago. The Library was created for the betterment of the working class residents, and while the land was gifted by All Souls College, Oxford, the local community and local taxes financed the building itself.
Kensal Rise Library has survived two World Wars and the Great Depression; but sadly it was not able to fend off Brent Council’s closure threats, and the Library was brutally shut in October last year when Brent shamefully disposed of six of its 12 libraries (brentsoslibraries.org.uk/sos).
The local community is determined to save Kensal Rise Library and has established a campaign (savekensalriselibrary.org) as well as a charity, the Friends of Kensal Rise Library (friendsofkensalriselibrary.org), to oversee the running of the Library. The Friends are ready and able to take over the Library at a moments notice, but there is one significant hurdle before this can be achieved - All Souls needs to RESTORE THE BUILDING TO THE COMMUNITY.
All Souls has previously stated that they are “happy for the Friends to run the Library”, but they are preparing KENSAL RISE LIBRARY for an OPEN BIDDING PROCESS. All Souls current plans are in contrast to their previous commitments to the community and their long history in Kensal Rise. Surely this cannot be what the Fellows intend?
We therefore ask All Souls to revert their current course and transfer the freehold of the building to the Friends of Kensal Rise Library so that it can be restored to the community.
Boyd Tonkin sums up All Souls situation perfectly ‘A TRUE EXAMINATION FOR ALL SOULS’
...the rich endowments of All Souls include the freehold of Kensal Rise Library, the branch shamefully shut, stripped and plundered at dead of night (down to the plaque that marked its opening by Mark Twain in 1900) by the most grossly philistine Labour council in Britain: Brent.
Although the municipal hooligans of Brent handed the keys back to All Souls, the Friends of Kensal Rise Library have now requested that the college transfer the freehold to them, under the Charities Act 2011, to enable the building's renewed use as a library.
All Souls should comply, prove its lavish assets serve a greater purpose than the upkeep of a favoured few, and do its bit towards mitigating the chaos and error that Brent has sown. - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent on 16th June 2011