The sad decline of East Greenwich library

East Greenwich library cuts an ever increasingly sad figure on Woolwich Road as it lays empty since closure.

The library closed in 2015 with facilities moving into the Greenwich Centre.

Author Christopher Fowler has written in his autobiography how important the library was to him in his early years.

Over the years it reduced in size gradually as areas were closed off. The Carnegie building was in a sorry state even when it closed. Truth be told it was in poor shape at least 15 years before, but three years of non-use have now left it a mess externally.

It’s hard to believe Global Guardians are living inside as it cannot be safe. Damp was endemic years ago.

Weeds are now growing out of various parts of the building’s frontage.

It’s not the easiest building to sell given it’s Grade II listed status prevents substantial alterations and poor condition, but are Greenwich Council going to sit on it until it collapses?

Any buyer would see the public realm in the area and back away. It’s dire. Imagine selling a house and trashing the garden before someone turns up to view. Leaving the area such a mess in doing pretty much the same thing.

Even a lick of paint on the railings (and there’s absolutely loads of them) would smarten up this particularly ugly spot. Or remove some and declutter the area.

The adjacent flyover does little to help, and with TfL dragging their feet on improving the area it falls to Greenwich to do something on their patch directly outside.

Over the years funds have been available to improve this spot. Where’s it all gone? £50,000 from the HILLS project was supposed to be spent around here three years ago. It never happened.

I don’t need to go over the tens of millions of Section 106 and Community Infrastructure income money again.

Not only would local people have a more attractive and safer environment but the authority would probably gain greater income from any building sale.

When East Greenwich library closed so did the Arches leisure centre. Three years later and it too is still empty.

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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    6 thoughts on “The sad decline of East Greenwich library

    • It’s like visiting the grave of an old friend and seeing it defaced. Everything about Greenwich is encapsulated in the area surrounding the library, from the old fire and police stations to the rotten state of the roads, leading to the gleaming future at the ‘Peninsular’. A city without joy, surrounded by beauty yet no means to enjoy it

    • One would like to think that Greenwich Council could redevelop the site in a sympathetic way to make some council flats for the area.

    • It’s rumoured that council have put a ticket on this building of approx £2m to anyone enquiring to buy for community purposes (under Carnegie covenant). Perhaps they feel best let it rot so it can be knocked down if Angerstein roundabout receives redevelopment money and plans need to be extended. Not sure of permissions here; mere speculation. FOI on that ticket price though!!

    • I grew up on Humber Road and spent hours in the library and must have borrowed over 100 books. It’s so sad to see the neglect.

      @Steve: given the building’s Grade ll listing, it would be too expensive for Greenwich council to redevelop into social housing. However, it is not impossible to bring abandoned listed buildings back into use – Greenwich Magistrates’ court is to form part of a new hotel – it just takes deep pockets.

    • I was told the library was gifted to the public a long time ago. So maybe it’s not legally the councils property to sell. Not sure if this was true… As kids we protested to keep the library open when it was facing closure. Must have been 30 years ago now. It worked 🙂


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