The Book Warehouse, Waterloo: where browsers have legs

May is Lambeth Readers and Writers Month, but with Lambeth selling off two of its nine public libraries, and effectively shutting down another three, any spark of local good news in the book world burns extra bright. Well, here’s one cheering item for book lovers. The Book Warehouse discount bookshop outside Waterloo Station at 158 Waterloo Road may have closed to make way for yet more flats, but lo and behold, it’s cropped up again around the corner at 104 Lower Marsh SE1 7AB. It’s in smaller temporary premises, and once again Richard Brunning and the lovely Olga preside over lots of good stuff.

The new bookshop is a few doors down from Waterloo Library, one of the two public libraries Lambeth is flogging off. The other is Stockwell’s Minet. Still, with The Book Warehouse opening, the Ian Allan store still in business on the buy generic viagra online opposite side of Lower Marsh and The Bookshop Theatre secondhand bookstore-cum-theatre/cinema a short walk away at 51 The Cut SE1 8LF, it’s still possible in Waterloo to see, touch and be surprised by books on a shelf. Customers became so engrossed in the stock at the old Book Warehouse they left behind belongings that included a Mr Punch puppet, glasses, teddy bears, walking sticks and even two big bags full of towels. From what we have seen (and bought) the new, smaller Book Warehouse is inch-per-inch equally absorbing. Contact: 020 7620 2318.

Come to the Durning Library Crisis Meeting, 20 April

SOS: Lambeth’s libraries, two down, five to go? Crisis meeting 20 April

durning library exterior

durning library exteriorThe Friends of Kennington’s Durning Library have sent out an SOS to Vauxhall Society members.

The SOS reads ‘Your local libraries are in danger – please help!’

The Friends add that the Durning is just one of the libraries ‘threatened with closure’ under Lambeth’s ‘Culture 2020’ cutbacks, even though the threat is ‘by no means obvious’ from the messages Lambeth Council is sending out.

Lambeth’s plan for ‘Cultural Services by 2020′ is in libraries and at Few have read it – or understood its dangerous implications.

The Culture 2020 paper proposes to:

  • CLOSE two libraries (Minet, Waterloo) and sell the buildings.
  • STOP RUNNING three libraries (Carnegie, Durning, Upper Norwood), leaving local people to staff and only today largely fund them (page 18).

This is completely impractical. It effectively means CLOSURE.

Volunteer-run libraries have no record of success in boroughs such as Lambeth. Where they survive at all, they do not provide anything resembling a full library service.

The Friends add:


The library service in North Lambeth is to be shrunk into the only best offers tiny Tate South Lambeth Library in Vauxhall’s South Lambeth Road. Yet even the Tate’s existence is not guaranteed after 2020. Libraries and their Friends groups double (and treble) as community-activity and learning centres, and are an important guarantor of community cohesion.

The council’s budget cuts can be made in far less damaging ways, the Durning Friends argue, adding




  • Forward this message as widely as you can.
  • Write: drop into box in library or post (no stamp needed) to Freepost RSYJ-KJAK-HUTC, Room 113, Brixton SW2 1RW
  • Email:
  • Sign the petition:
  • COME TO THE MEETING ON 20 APRIL, 7pm at Durning Library, 167 Kennington Lane.

Friends of Durning Library website

Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library website


Kennington Choir: Let the people sing

kennington choir

The Tate South Lambeth Library is a good place to be this Friday night (27 March) and indeed any night The Friends of the Tate South Lambeth Library are staging an event.

First, there’s the event itself, guaranteed absolutely politician/general election–free. Then there’s a bonus, an appearance by the Kennington Community Choir. You can join if you like.

What’s more, The Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library, library users and the library staff are a microcosm of community life in Vauxhall.

Events such as Friday night’s are a good place to meet people, including fellow-members of The Vauxhall Society. The Friends of the Tate South Lambeth Library are an associate member of TVS and there’s much cross-membership of individuals between the two.

Among other things, The Friends promote the library’s renovation and refurbishment, both exterior and interior, and have developed a gallery within the only today library, Tate Local, which now stages exhibitions. The Friends organise talks, parties and events and the best place have just won a hard-fought second ‘reprieve’ – for five years – from Lambeth Council’s property-development plans.

The Kennington Community Choir is led by Elspeth Thompson and is in its third year. The Kenningtons sing ‘anything and a bit of everything’ from pop to classical to world music, and last year appeared at The Royal Festival Hall.

Admission free. Refreshments available.

6.30 for 7pm
180 South Lambeth Road

Kennington Community Choir meets every Thursday at 7.30pm in St Mark’s Church, Kennington, 337 Kennington Park Road London SE11 4PW (opposite Oval Tube). You’re welcome to join the choir, whether or not you worship at St Mark’s. Simply turn up (no auditions necessary) or visit


A meeting of Vauxhall minds: Thursday 19 March, 6.30pm

air monitoring equipment in dieppe and vauxhall
air monitoring equipment in dieppe and vauxhall

At Dieppe they have a roadside air pollution monitor bearing a legible informative notice, giving you a website address where you can find out how good or bad the breathing is. Compare it with the uninformative monitor on the Kylun Island at Vauxhall Cross.

Like to know more about what goes on around here, meet some more people, hear what they think about what’s happening and have your say too?

A good way to do all that is to turn up at the next regular public meeting, on Thursday 18 March, of the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum (of community groups). It’s at the Carmelita Centre, 40 Vauxhall Walk, SE11 5JT.

This promises to be a particularly lively evening as the next month is a hectic one. Kick-off is at 6.30pm, with half an hour’s chat time over refreshments (free) before the heavy stuff starts.

The agenda includes a Lambeth Councillor and an official outlining ‘Culture 2020’, which involves the closing of half of Lambeth’s Libraries. Councillor and official are likely to be asked when Lambeth Council will comply with an Information Commissioner ruling to come clean about the buy real viagra council’s property deals with Transport for London over the use of land in Kennington Park and Kennington Green.

At the KOVF public meeting, the Committee will report on, among other things, the Cycle Highway and Thames footbridge, as well as the way ahead for Vauxhall Bus Station/ the Vauxhall Gyratory.

Lambeth, it is suggested, can come out as the good guys on the bus station and only best offers gyratory, by protecting voters from the pollution and disruption threatened by Transport for London’s property-development ambitions. TfL wish to replace the one-way gyratory with a slower, two-way system, around which HGVs and other heavy traffic will still thunder.

An alternative community plan by residents will be discussed at KOVF on Thursday suggests that Lambeth removes HGV traffic from South Lambeth Road, so reducing pollution, some of the worst in London.

By leaving the bus station as it is, Lambeth would save millions in costs, and avoid the long disruption and relocation of services for residents and workers. TfL wants to ‘rebuild’ the bus station only to add commercial space. There is no transport gain to passengers. There are more and more of them, and they would be crammed into even less space.


Lambeth Local History Forum is having an emergency meeting on 20 March on the future of Lambeth Archives, currently housed in one the libraries up for sale, the Minet in Stockwell.

Lambeth Local History Forum

‘Lambeth Libraries in Peril!’

durning library exterior

No, not The Vauxhall Society’s headline, but that of a press release by the Friends of Lambeth Libraries, who say they are ‘appalled’ by Council plans to halve the number of public libraries in Lambeth. Here is the press release:

Friends of Lambeth Libraries speaks for libraries and communities all over the borough.

We are appalled by Lambeth’s new ‘Culture 2020′ proposals for libraries. As the news spreads, it is being greeted with horror everywhere. (

The core proposal is a drastic reduction from 10 to just five libraries – for a population of 310,000 (and growing). Large areas of the borough – especially in the north – will have nothing.

  • Two libraries (Waterloo and Minet) are to be closed, and the buildings sold off.
  • Three (Carnegie, Durning, Upper Norwood) are to be abandoned to anyone in ‘the community’ who wants to try running them – a model that is proven usually to fail.
  • The remaining five (Brixton, Clapham, Streatham, Tate South Lambeth, West Norwood) will be put under heavy pressure, and are themselves subject to cuts.
  • The outstanding archives service will be shoe-horned into Brixton library, wrecking both.

Lambeth needs ALL its libraries.

And it needs them ALL to be run properly – by professionals.

Lambeth needs to ask itself –

  • Can it afford to replace all the services the libraries now provide (on the cheap)?
  • Does it realise that libraries support its own priorities in health, education, digital access, business, employment, family support, literacy, and more?
  • Is it happy to deprive its residents of all this – and pay for the consequences?
  • Does it have any idea what it is doing?

The service itself has been under-funded for decades. Yet it is improving on all measures, and expanding its activities dramatically. Thanks to enormous efforts by staff, it is winning awards and government praise.

The libraries’ beautiful buildings have been neglected for years, almost to the point of destruction. Lambeth has recently invested in repairing this damage – and it is paying off, with attractive spaces that people want to use. Much of this is now to be wasted.

The service has already lost £870,000 pa (almost a third of its budget) in two years – on top of cuts in previous years. Now a further £800,000 pa is to be cut.

The service is so cost-effective that this will have a devastating effect on what it can provide for the communities that need it more than ever.

Yet this sum is a tiny fraction of Lambeth’s total budget. The Culture 2020 document itself identifies large sums that could be available for
libraries. We have no doubt that more sensible savings could be made to save the service.

The financial plan to support so-called ‘community libraries’ simply doesn’t add up. They are being set up to fail.

Lambeth’s plans are totally flawed – and show that it has no idea what public libraries do for the council and cheapest cialis professional its residents.


  • Lambeth is the only borough in the whole of England where book issues are RISING.
  • All libraries provide free internet access (and support) – a lifeline to the poorest, as government services for job-seekers, benefits claimants etc increasingly go online.
  • Lambeth is the only library service in England that is pioneering access to reading for people with dyslexia or sight problems. This is attracting high praise from government – and interest from other councils that want to adopt the scheme.
  • All libraries have WiFi (50% of England’s libraries do not).
  • The service has extensive online resources (all free) for 24/7 enquiries, reference, business information, academic research, magazines and e-book lending.
  • All libraries have mother-and-toddler groups, giving vital literacy
  • training, and distribute free books to pre-schoolers. There are special packs for children with disabilities – deafness, motor skills or sight problems, and learning difficulties.
  • The 2014 summer reading scheme involved more children than ever (26% up on 2013).
  • Lambeth has a huge programme of popular free festivals – run at no cost to the borough – including LGBT Month, Black History Month, Readers & Writers, and Lambeth Heritage.
  • Lambeth libraries also run: special collections on health, homework clubs, computer coding clubs, older people’s activities, English conversation classes, reading groups (including special groups for children, teens, prison inmates and people with autism), art exhibitions, health checks, careers advice, legal advice, silver surfers, Friends’ activities and talks…. and more!


The people of Lambeth deserve better.

Lambeth Council’s proposals for halving the number of public libraries: Documentation, questionnaire available in all Lambeth libraries) and online at<>

The consultation will close at midnight on Friday 24 April 2015.

Evening Standard: Libraries and parks are temples for the mind and fillips for the spirit. They’re public places where you’re a citizen, not a customer

Judge Sycamore and the Friends of Durning Library’s hellish Tree of Heaven 

tree of heaven durning library
tree of heaven durning library

Photo from Tradescant Road and South Lambeth blog. Copyright unknown.

There hasn’t been such a to-do about trees around here since the visit web site national press caught on to the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens support of Lambeth Council’s chopping down  of mulberry trees on the historic  site to make way for £300,000-worth of black concrete columns. The tangled tale of the Friends of Durning Library and i recommend their logjam over a Tree of Heaven has nothing to do with such vandalism. As with all that black concrete, however it has everything to do with Lambeth’s wastefulness. 

Now it’s probably fair to say that to a man and woman, the Friends of Durning Library are also friends of trees, usually, that is. But not of the species Tree of Heaven, or at least the one that Lambeth Council says ‘is located in the grounds of Durning Library’.  That’s putting it mildly, for this particular Ailanthus altissima (a fast growing breed) is ‘located’ around, beneath and above the English Heritage-listed Victorian library building itself. ‘Woodperson, don’t spare that tree!’might sum up the Durning Friends’ position. The Durning tree already projects well above the rear of the building. Roots and suckers, already strongly established beneath and beyond the structure, are reaching for adjoining properties. To hear the Friends of Durning Library talk, their infernal Tree of Heaven could soon be coming up through the library floor.

Lambeth councillors might from time to time wish that Trees of Heaven would throttle all the borough’s public libraries, so saving the council money and even more bad Press. For all that, there’s an expensive council consultation under way, ending Monday 23 February. This Tree of Heaven should be sent to meet its maker forthwith, the Friends of the Durning say. A Chinese immigrant, Ailanthus altissima has yet to make it onto the banned invasive species list, the garden-centre industry being no less vigorous in defence of this fast-grower than the Tree of Heaven is in self-defence.

Lambeth Council is terrified that its insurers will no longer cover the Durning if the tree stays. There is already ‘trespass’ of branches and roots onto neighbouring properties and if someone’s badly hurt, Lambeth’s consultants say, the personal liability could go all the way up the Lambeth Council tree to the new Chief Executive, Sean Harriss. If the council’s lawyers are good enough, the claims might not also cite Harriss’s predecessor Derrick Anderson, who left at the end of 2014, or  the Council Leader, currently Lib Peck.

The question of lop-or-leave has been in out of court for two years and may soon be back there. When Lambeth decided to lop in 2012, it did so without doing its homework. There was protest from a local resident or residents, one of whom is reputed to have said that the tree does a valuable good job in blotting out the view towards nearby council homes.

In 2013, the opposition secured an injunction giving tree a stay of execution, followed by permission to put the council’s decision to judicial review. In June last year, the exquisitely-named Judge Phillip Sycamore quashed the council’s decision because it failed to take account of the tree’s being in a Conservation Area. On the other hand, the Durning tree ‘belongs’ to Lambeth Council (as does the library), and is not subject to a Tree Preservation Order.  Lambeth might be free to reach for the chainsaw if the council can show that the current consultation does cover the Conservation issues, and that the Tree of Heaven is doing more harm than good to the Kennington Conservation Area. That’s assuming there’s no fresh legal challenge to the tree’s removal. Meanwhile, around the Durning Library ‘a number’ of other Trees of Heaven are now reaching for the celestial sky.

Had Lambeth Council done its homework before having a go at this Tree of Heaven, it could have saved many thousands of pounds of public money. But at least the lawyers are happy.

‘Tree of Hell threatens native plants’:

Official report:

The stay of execution:

Friends of Durning Library:

Does the way Lambeth’s handling our libraries suit your book?

minet library lambeth archives

What the blue blazes are Lambeth councillors up to with our libraries? Lambeth people were asked to give their views by 26 January on where Lambeth Archives, presently crammed into Myatt’s Fields’ Minet Library, should be rehoused.  The Vauxhall Society’s response was to recommend Vauxhall Cross or Kennington. A second Lambeth consultation, on selling off the Minet and Waterloo libraries, was announced four days later, 30 January, seeking your views by midnight on Friday, 24 April. On 30 January, however, a Brixton blogger was saying that the Archives move was a done deal and that Archives are off to Brixton. The same blog also infers that the second consultation is a waste of your time and Council Tax money. Lambeth councillors, it is alleged, have already decided not only to flog off the Minet and the Waterloo – they’re going to stop funding Kennington’s Durning Library, the Upper Norwood and Herne Hill’s Carnegie as well. If true, so much for the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s 1906 bequest, half a century before Lambeth Borough Council was itself was spawned and became the library’s owner. Lambeth says the money it nets for the Minet and Waterloo libraries will go into a £10 million endowment fund for ‘culture and library services. That kind of money, Lambeth adds, ‘could’ be enough to fund ‘five town centre’ and four ‘community ‘libraries’. What the council doesn’t say whether that’s new libraries or the present lot, whose budgets Lambeth bleeds with heavy ‘management charges’. An interesting note in the Lambeth ‘culture’ announcement is that over the next ten years the council expects the  population of this 3 by 7-mile  borough to rise by ‘more than 30,000’ (nearly a tenth) from its present 266,000 or so.

Brixton blog:

Lambeth’s ‘Consultation’: Cultural Services by 2020: (and in all Lambeth libraries, while there still are some).

When Lambeth Archives wants to show what they’ve got, they have to telephone Morley College:

Vauxhall’s library again at risk of closure as Lambeth councillors are 3½ years overdue

tate south lambeth library

Vauxhall’s Tate South Lambeth Library is again at risk, three years after a campaign supported by The Vauxhall Society averted closure by Lambeth Borough Council. Closure would be ‘particularly perverse’ say The Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library, a TVS affiliate, because local property development backed by the council ‘will generate a massive rise in population and so demand for public services’.

The Tate South Lambeth Library (TSL) ‘will be at risk’ the Friends newsletter warns, if Lambeth officials and councillors persist in their current policy of denying this library a share of the capital investment in the council’s current mantra, ‘income-generating facilities’.

TSL is has nearly doubled its 2014-2015 target for ‘income–generation’ in response to demands by ‘the Library Commission’ Lambeth set up to ‘consider the future of’ (i.e.prune) the library service. The Friends say there is good money to be made by out-of-hours rental of the library by adult education groups. But after three and half years of telling the ‘Commission’ and the library service so, verbally and in writing, the Friends have had ‘zero response’.

Meanwhile, Lambeth is pocketing existing income from TSL. The library was donated to the library service the sugar-refining magnate Henry Tate. Lambeth councillors, however, rent out the two top floors of the building as flats and the council pockets the money. Lambeth transferred the two floors, without compensation, from the library service to a council satellite company, Lambeth Living. The Friends are now asking for much or all of the rental income on the flats, to whose maintenance costs the library service still contributes.
The Friends also report that Lambeth is slow in providing them with the a copy of the overall libraries budget for April 2014-March 2015, which the we choice Friends need to see how the proposed cut for TSL compares with that for the library service as a whole. Meanwhile TSL’s visits and borrowings for the year to March 2014 are up.

Read the newsletter

Tate South Lambeth Library is in Vauxhall’s Oval Ward, whose three councillors are listed at:

An event a day and then some in Lambeth Heritage Festival month

Microsoft Word - LaunchInvitation.docx
Microsoft Word - LaunchInvitation.docx

Lambeth Heritage Festival: 1-28 September 2013

Lambeth Archives and canada pharmacy Libraries have teamed up with the Lambeth Local History Forum and local groups to offer a programme of 40 events including talks, tours, exhibitions, workshops and guided walks. There’s a series of evenings with Lambeth archivists Jon Newman and Len Reilly, plus local speakers.

On Thursday 26 September, there’s a festival event at the Durning on the story of Kennington, a place where for once the waves did what King Canute told them to, and where nowadays politicians become property millionaires on expenses. Jon Newman will give tips on how to trace the history of a Kennington home, with contributions on Kennington’s own history from English Heritage’s Andrew Saint, a Kennington resident, and The Vauxhall Society’s Ross Davies.

The month will close with Lambeth Archives Open Day, ‘1913 – Edwardian Swansong,’ on Saturday 28 September with talks, exhibitions, book stalls and local society stands, whose theme will be life in South London at the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. A second edition of Edmund Bird’s ‘Lambeth’s Edwardian Splendours’ will also be launched.

Full details:

Information about the festival and open day including the full programme can be downloaded free at

All events are free unless otherwise stated in the programme. Paper copies of the programme are also available in all Lambeth Libraries.

Lambeth Archives

Lambeth Landmark

Lambeth Archives

52 Knatchbull Road

London SE5 9QY

0207 926 6076

Tate South Lambeth Library, the good news and the bad news

First, the good news: Lambeth Libraries managed to field a couple of councillors and a brace of managers at TSL on 20 April 2013 for what promises to be the first of a quarterly meet-the-suits evening.

The audience was clearly in favour of libraries management and councillors facing the we use it public so officialdom’s decisions and actions can be publicly challenged. The right level of management there, and the audience was lively.

And the bad news? First, The suits and the councillors have yet to say where spending cuts will fall. Jobs are likely to go at TSL, but are still being negotiated with the unions. Second, Lambeth Libraries seem to think that TSL can raise its income (currently fines, photocopying charges) by charging for functions.

But getting in the customers will require a level of initiative, skill and dynamism rarely met with in Lambeth libraries.

Lambeth is already putting the financial screws on existing users such as TVS associate group, the Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library, which may have to stop showing local-interest independent films. Read about why here.