History of the Trust

A Project Board was set up in 2012 at the invitation of Lambeth Council, to consider the potential for transfer of Carnegie Library Building to community management.

The project board was made up of people from the local community. Local consultation and planning continued and in 2015 the project board was established as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, capable as such of responding to the Council’s invitation to bid to be the preferred partners in the asset transfer. A relationship was developed with Carnegie Trust UK who are supportive of the aims of the Trust.

The CCT bid for asset transfer was submitted in December 2015. The bid was accepted as the preferred bid in October 2016. This bid featured:

  1. Proposal for a major bid to the Heritage Lottery for substantial improvements to the building identified in a Condition Survey in 2015 – jointly with partners as appropriate

  2. Commitment to generate sufficient income to maintain the building over time subject to the above

  3. A plan to establish four programmes of activity – Learning and Work; Performance and Arts; Wellbeing and Environment

In October 2015 the Council released a forward planning report “Culture 2020” which included plans to regroup the Lambeth Libraries into Town Centre Libraries and Neighbourhood Libraries. Carnegie was to be a Neighbourhood Library and a gym was to be developed in the basement in partnership with Greenwich Leisure Ltd.  The change of status of the library to a non-Librarian staffed library and/or the plans for the gym raised anxieties in some parts of the community.  The community support and concern for the building and library was considerable with wide ranging concernment from, for example, provision of public library services, public finances, impact of changes to the neighbourhood, preservation of the heritage listed building to the future use and income/expenditure model for the building to name a few.

In March 2016 the building was completely closed for the excavation of the basement and development of the gym. Prior to closure the building had been occupied by local people expressing these concerns and an uncertain future.  During the closure CCT CIO were unable to continue any active plans towards the asset transfer.

The Library reopened in Spring 2018; the wider parts of the building in December 2018. The gym opened in January 2019. Building work was required at alate stage to replace the former kitchen with five toilets as the toilets had previously been in the basement no longer accessible to the ground and first floor activities.

CCT began to plan actively for use of the building and in May 2019 CCT signed a Licence for use of five rooms on the ground and first floor of the building.

In October 2018 CCT CIO were successful in securing a grant from Heritage Lottery Resilience Fund for Stage One of our activity. This helped us to take forward our Stage One Development Plan in 2019. Supported by the HLF funding in 2019 and early 2020, we were able to achieve:

  • Legal advice on the licence and lease

  • A colour Brochure distributed to 4000 addresses locally

  • Purchase of equipment – including PA system, monitor and large screen, chairs, tables, desks, tea urns, glasses, large thermoses

  • Hiring rates and terms and conditions of hire

  • Volunteer recruitment and training

  • Consultation and completion of the Carnegie Heritage Plan

  • Planning consent for change of use of two rooms to be used as office space

  • Setting up the Enterprise Centre on the first floor with 15 exclusive use desks

  • A partnership for the development of the planned café with Southside Rehabilitation Company

  • Room hires for public meetings, book launches, karate classes, sewing classes, parties, quiz evenings

  • Further funding applications

  • A new website

There was a strong sense of successful expansion up to March 2020.

As the COVID pandemic eased it was possible to hire the first of two Centre Managers who worked very successfully in attracting our early community and private clients.  Both one off and regular events were hosted.  Further management and caretaker staff were a welcome addition to a lovely team.  This blooming community business was successful in proving a future hub model, working with the library and staff, understanding the building (what was and wasn’t possible), working towards financial sustainability and, crucially, getting the beautiful building to be used more servicing the local community.

In early 2023 Lambeth embarked on long planned Capital Works to remedy essential maintenance relevant to water ingress and damage.  Bootstrapping this investment, the Hub continues to get stronger with a growing team, positive identity, full board of trustees and an agenda for getting busier in a thoughtful and sustainable way.