New chapter for former Manor Park library

Artists Amy Fenlek and Ruth Beale of Rabbits Road Institute at the Old Manor Park Library

Artists Amy Fenlek and Ruth Beale of Rabbits Road Institute at the Old Manor Park Library - Credit: Archant

A new chapter began last night for a former library that could house the borough’s next generation of artists.

More than a hundred guests witnessed the re-opening of the old Carnegie library in Manor Park, poised to host an exciting range of affordable art studios and community groups in its new incarnation as a creative hub.

“The idea is that it’s always been a public space, it’s about celebrating it as a space for educational, creative and community projects,” said artist Ruth Beale, one half of Rabbits Road Institute, a space in the library to be used for the creative study of economics.

Together with artist Amy Feneck, the pair developed the rationale for the reimagined building, inspired by their research on The Free Libary Movement of the mid-Victorian period.

Now the Romford Road building, built in 1905 to inspire east Londoners to self-educate, will recover its original purpose as community groups from or near Newham can book the extensive front room space three days a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.


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“[It’s important] that it has some absolute link to the area, that people are involved with making it work, with making it happen, making it relevant.”

Rabbits Road Institute already has an economics for all group, a monthly community drop-in and a film night proposed over the next couple of months, with many more events planned.

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“This is a space which should be used to educate the community,” added Mayor of Newham, Robin Wales, speaking at the opening.

“We understand the power of the Arts and the importance of them. We believe we should support people to build it.

“This is a chance to see what the Arts can be.”

The Old Manor Park Library is delivered in partnership with Bow Arts, Create, and Newham Council. It is supported by the Mayor of London’s High Street Fund.

Rabbits Road Library is supported by Newham Council and Arts Council England.

A community open day runs at the library this Saturday, from 12-4pm. Tea and cakes will be available, and visitors will be able to meet the architects, staff from Bow Arts, Create and Rabbits Road Institute artists.

Go to oldmanorparklibrary.org or createlondon.org/event/rabbits-road-institute/ to find out more.

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