A brief history of Grappenhall Library

The beginning

image006The story of the library starts in 1959 when the land the current building sits on was kindly donated by the Morrey family of Grappenhall.

A brass engraved plaque records the kind gift: “This plaque was placed by the Cheshire County Council to acknowledge the gift of this site by the family of the late Mrs Frances Morrey of Grappenhall specifically for the building of this library and in memory of her. May 1959″

The library was small but successful and became a community hub, used intensively by children and older readers.

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Cutbacks

 

In 2010 budget cuts were found necessary by Warrington Borough Council, as part of wider UK wide tightening of belts. Grappenhall, Great Sankey and the mobile library service were identified as possible areas for cuts.
There was a vocal and spirited reaction to the proposed closure at Grappenhall and dozens of families and children were featured on the local Granada Evening News in March 2011.

The New beginning

Soon after the closure on the 2nd April 2011, a small group of locals decided to work to try to return the empty building to community use.
A number of public meetings were held and over eighty people from the community got involved in the project. One big initiative was to put the word out for book donations, which resulted in unbelievable generosity, when over 4,000 books were received for the venture.
In parallel, discussions with WBC were bearing fruit and the legal process to hand over the building to a new company/charity, formed by the volunteers, saw the return of the library possible.
Just before Christmas 2011, the keys were handed over to the ‘Friends of Grappenhall Library’. A lot of the real work could take place at this point.

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Donated books, which had already been catalogued, were brought into the library after it was decorated by volunteers.

An open day was held on Saturday 4th February 2012, when over local people crowded into the library, now ready again for community use. 315 joined in the first three weeks of opening.
In the coming weeks, internet access will be added and the ‘Friends Of Grappenhall Library’ have plans to extend the use of the building, into new areas. Come in and talk to us about it.

 

The Grand opening by the Mayor of Warrington Mike Biggin

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Our grand opening was covered by the Warrington Guardian. Mike Biggin, Warrington Mayor and local councillor was on hand for the event on the 15th May 2012.

Over 70 guests were at the opening, most of which have been part of the project to re-open this vital community facility.

Present at the event were descendants of the Morrey family, Gareth Tayor and Pamela Francis whose grandmother originally donated the land on which the library sits upon.

More than 500 people regularly borrow books while more than 100 are ‘friends’ – a group of supporters who pay £10 a year to keep the library running.

Sheelagh Connolly, pictured speaking far right above, is one of the friends and has been instrumental in setting it up. She said: “It is going really well, we are very pleased with the response we have had.

“We are seeing lots of young people use the library on Mondays and Tuesdays after school and we have an internet-enabled computer now too.”

In a latest boost, the group has been awarded almost £10,000 from the lottery to help fund a new kitchen on site. New grant applications for Wren meanwhile aim to secure funding for disabled toilets while organisers also want double glazing introduced to ease running costs.

Sheelagh said: “We always said we wanted this to be more than a library. “We want to be able to do teas and cakes for the old folks so they don’t have to go home and also provide proper facilities for them.

“We also have a mums and tots group in so we need the facilities for them.

“And we were a polling station last week so we are hoping that will allow more people to know we are here.”

Invited guests attended the opening, conducted by the Mayor and Grappenhall and Thelwall councillor Mike Biggin on Tuesday.

These included all those who have helped to reopen the Victoria Avenue building as well as the churches, Scouts, camera club and more.