Protesters outside Folkestone Library Photo: Ray Duff
By Ray Duff – The Save Folkestone Library campaign group hosted a literary event on Wednesday evening at the Community Room on The Bayle, titled ‘What the Dickens’. The event commemorated one year since the closure of the Grace Hill building by Kent County Council due to health and safety issues.
The event was well-attended by a large group of supporters, and was opened by group Chairperson Jon O’Connor who gave a brief overview of the last year of campaigning. The group had organized many demonstrations, leaflets, parades, and events, as well as a seagull cartoon created by their youngest supporter ‘Sylvie’. They had also collected and presented a massive petition of over 3700 signatures to the County Council.
Jon O’Connor, right, reviews the past years campaigning Photo: Ray Duff
The ‘What the Dickens’ event, named after the renowned author Charles Dickens who had a summerhouse in the town near Albion Villas, began with a quote from their MP, not the current one, but Sir Edward Watkin, who spoke at the original inauguration of Folkestone Library in 1888. He lauded the facility for its role in helping local people to enjoy the benefits of reading, learning and enquiry. This was followed by readings from Dicken’s works, especially his seasonal classic ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Debby Jones reads selections from Charles Dickens Photo: Ray Duff
The event also featured a reading of an appeal by Canon Jenkins, a prominent churchman of his day in 1889, for more donations of books and historical documents to enrich the Library and its collections. He wanted the local populace to enjoy their history and achievements more.
A prose poem was recited by loyal supporter, poet Jane Monson, titled ‘Where feet can stop for Free’. She remarked on how famous authors have always been staunch supporters of libraries. She also mentioned Holbein’s campaign in 1888 to allow women and girls to access libraries, as they were not allowed in at the time because they were not ratepayers.
The Mike Perry, the Folkestone Miniaturist, model of Folkestone Library on display once more Photo: Ray Duff
This was followed by a note from the Folkestone Council committee on libraries in 1938 which further stated that:
“People are reading more books leading to an immense increase in enjoyment and learning with incalculable benefit to the public”…
L-R Some of the leading campaign team, Matthew Jones, Pat Cocks, Mark Hourahane, Debby Jones, Jon O’Connor and Ray Duff
The event wound up with more readings from Charles Dickens and other works, and the group vowed to continue to campaign hard in the new year along with ongoing discussions with various parties regarding the building’s future.
” The district council have now lent their support to a plan which would see KCC retain overall responsibility for Grace Hill, returning the Library to its rightful place in the building, with a lease arrangement involving Creative Folkestone that would allow additional community use and creative practitioner space to come into play. This in turn should help to identify and secure funds for a phased approach to repairs.
“Inevitably the devil is in the detail and we have yet to hear what the response will be from KCC”.
Further info and updates:- https://www.facebook.com/groups/savefolkestonelibrary/