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Old Manor Park Library set to reopen as art studios

PUBLISHED: 16:22 10 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:22 10 September 2015

Design Makers Astrid Smitham, Philip T Ryan and Nicholas Lobo Brennan at Old Manor Park Library in Romford Road which they are redeveloping into an Arts Centre

Design Makers Astrid Smitham, Philip T Ryan and Nicholas Lobo Brennan at Old Manor Park Library in Romford Road which they are redeveloping into an Arts Centre

Vickie Flores/Archant

More than a century ago, the Old Manor Park Library opened to provide somewhere for east Londoners to self-educate.

Old Manor Park Library in Romford Road which is being redeveloped into an Arts CentreOld Manor Park Library in Romford Road which is being redeveloped into an Arts Centre

Now it is set to reopen as a creative space, harnessing the Romford Road site’s history to influence the future.

“It was built as a Carnegie library, one of the first free public libraries, and opened in 1905,” explained curator Marijke Steedman.

“We want to continue the idea of creativity in east London.”

The Grade II listed building is being redesigned by architects Nicholas Lobo Brennan and Astrid Smitham ahead of its reopening.

Design Makers  Philip T Ryan, Astrid Smitham and Nicholas Lobo Brennan at Old Manor Park Library in Romford Road which they are redeveloping into an Arts CentreDesign Makers Philip T Ryan, Astrid Smitham and Nicholas Lobo Brennan at Old Manor Park Library in Romford Road which they are redeveloping into an Arts Centre

“We’ve got a lot of old 80s wallpaper that we’re stripping back to restore it to its original look,” Marijke explained.

An area at the front of the building, known as the Rabbits Road Institute, will be used for community projects led by artists Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck.

“They’ll be going into Little Ilford School, working with GCSE sociology students on an arts project about the rich as a minority,” Marijke said.

“There will also be community chats, providing a place for people to talk about art.

The revamped library is a partnership between organisations Create and Bow Arts.

The intention is to create 20 affordable studios for artists, with a mixture of those from east London and from further afield being desired to help influence creativity.

“We’ve had an unprecedented number of applications already,” said Marijke.

The Old Manor Park Library will offically open on October 24, but a preview of the site will take place on Thursday, September 17 from 6.30pm.

To book your free ticket, visit rabbitsroad.eventbrite.co.uk XX

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