now incorporating the Sudbury Hill and Wood End Times

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ritual adornment of the sacrificial building

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The Willesden Library centre, home of the Brent museum, BelleVue cinema, Gigi's Café, the Willesden Bookshop, The Brent One-Stop centre, The Space I and II performance venues, The Gallery, The Gallery Concourse, the education room and other community spaces, the only town centre car park, and not least the busy upstairs and downstairs library with tables thronged with children studying, is about about to be demolished.

In the past few years, over £600,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund was spent on it to move the museum from its former location, and other changes. Since then it has been deliberately run down and the car park made practically unusable.

The whole place was continuously booked and busy with community groups and cultural events. We even had The Divine Cat on loan from the British Museum. But fear not, in another few years you will have an office building with community areas and a private block of flats where the car park was. The piazza at the front will be consumed and the Victorian library building conjoined to the new box.

And they're also demolishing the Queensbury, opposite Willesden Green station for - you guessed! - another block of flats. They've already demolished Dollis Hill House in nearby Gladstone Park and closed six out of the twelve libraries for Brent, so the culturecide continues apace. They must spend all their time thinking, "What else can we destroy?"

This library centre is the seventh out of twelve to close but they promise it will reappear as large as ever in a couple of years. Let's wait and see. Well, we have no choice. Money has spoken. You can thank your local Labour party representatives at the next local election.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh no, not the BelleVue cinema which...erm...has been closed for year; SURELY not the 'piazza' where all those local tramps like to hang out to get drunk and scare the kiddies! How dare they knock it down in favour of an "office building with community areas"...where did you read that...did you just make that up all by yourself, you naughty person? I thought it's actually a larger library and One Stop Shop, a gallery, cafe, archive and museum, a new one of those fancy piazzas at the back and all that jazz! Easy to overlook these minor details sometimes, lets just stick to an office building...you don't have to type as much that way - you rest your fingers for when you moan about replacing those lovely cobbled roads with that horrible tarmac stuff. Really good blog, honestly.

Ossian said...

Of course the café, bookshop and cinema have long since been closed down, that is part of the deliberate dereliction. The new building is to house offices for the council on the upper floors. So all the promised cultural facilities will be under the dreary council offices and their employees. There will be no space around the new building. The space below the private flats will of course belong to them. Cultural Centre? It might pass for such in Kazakhstan, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear...speaking of dreary..
The new building is not just about those offices on the top floor though is it - it's about the other things on the other three, like a bigger library...you know,the place where you'll find your blog in the fiction section. As for the 'no space around the new building', perhaps you should take a moment to take a look at the plans before you comment on it...actually you just keep making things up, i'd hate to dampen your creativity.

Ossian said...

I said there would be no space around the building. Obviously there will be space in the new building, which as I said before combines a council office block and the patronising "cultural centre." I have seen the plans. The fact is, we already have a cultural centre, which was not cheap, is not very old, and was generally held to be an elegant and functional community facility. All we're gaining is supposedly almost the same thing with offices on top, no car park and no space in front.

Anonymous said...

What we're gaining on the inside, offices aside, are the same facilities we have at the moment (apart from the bookshop, which is a shame) but with more space - the library will be bigger, the One Stop Shop will be bigger, etc. Not only that, but the building will be environmentally friendly, be more enticing for kids to use, and also encourage regeneration in the area.
On the outside, a new public avenue/space will be created at the back of the library with benches, trees and a cafe...how it works in reality we'll have to see, but it's definately there!

Ossian said...

The "One Stop Shop" is not a cultural facility. It's another council office. No bookshop. We already had a café bar till they killed it. It's all of a piece with the process of turning everywhere into an industrial dormitory zone and people farm. We're also losing the playground and play area for the so-called public avenue, which is of course nothing more than the access to the private flats. There will be much less space for the public markets, such as the French Market. There will be nowhere for the St Patrick's day festival and funfair. Besides, seeing is believing as regards "the new library". Menwhile a few years' cohorts of schoolkids are deprived of their study areas. The local groups, such as the Willesden Green Writers' Group have been offered "show willing" replacement facilities, which are completely impractical and are having to make their own arrangements. Plus, never ever forget that the Labour council has closed the Kensal Rise library nearby, which was opened by Mark Twain in 1900 and was gifted to the local community by All Souls College, Oxford in a time when generosity still existed in public life. Now the meanness of the present apparatchiks leads to the obscenity of breaking into the library in the dead of night and stripping the commemorative plaques and murals together with all the books and selling off the building for - guess what? yeah, you got it - a block of flats. What is the point of flats in a place that has been completely stripped of all culture? Eh?

Anonymous said...

Have seen the plans - looks alright. My kids are probably more likely to go to the new building than the old drab with drunks all around it.

What we're gaining is a space that can actually be used in evenings because it will be sound proof (well I hope it will).

The old building is simple a do it cheaply botch job.

Shame about the car parking though but selling land for housing is the only way these things can happen.

Will be a good thing in the area in the long run, but have to see past the short term pain.