Final chapter for Lewes Library saviours

Lewes Library.
Lewes Library.

The voluntary body which led a high profile campaign 14 years ago to ensure Lewes got a new library is being closed down because it now “has no clear future role” to play in its development.

Lewes Library Friends was formed in 1999. Almost immediately it was embroiled in a public campaign to persuade East Sussex County Council to move the town’s library from its cramped and old building in Albion Street to a new site.

The highlight of the campaign was when the council suddenly withdrew funding for the new library because the money was needed for other services.

Lewes Library Friends stepped up its fight forcing the council to restore the funding.

The Friends then switched to fundraising, bringing in more than £70,000 to buy equipment which had dropped out of the council’s revised library budget.

At the annual meeting members of the Friends unanimously agreed the organisation would be wound-up on May 10.

Chairman Fred Baylis said: “The county council is already initiating effective development policies for its libraries and the Friends had been assured that ‘the large amounts of capital invested in new libraries in the county proves the council’s desire to preserve and promote libraries’.”

After the resolution was passed to close down, Joy Preston, who was chairman in the early years, and Rosey Eggar, who worked closely with her, recalled highlights of how the Friends had succeeded in keeping the new library on track.

Mr Bayliss added that the library was a notable achievement by local people and closing down the Friends was a joyful celebration rather than a sad occasion.