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Disregard for local history and amateur scholar is contemptible

PUBLISHED: 15:06 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:24 05 October 2010

Dear Editor, I WRITE to dissuade Tower Hamlets council from separating the Archive and History Library collections from the beautiful Bancroft building and moving them to some unsuitable destination . The council’s disregard for local history and the amateur scholar is contemptible and poltroonish. So, too, is the Town Hall’s misplaced idea of what constitutes community’

Dear Editor,

I WRITE to dissuade Tower Hamlets council from separating the Archive and History Library collections from the beautiful Bancroft building and moving them to some unsuitable destination (East London Advertiser, June 19).

The council's disregard for local history and the amateur scholar is contemptible and poltroonish. So, too, is the Town Hall's misplaced idea of what constitutes 'community.'

Within the walls of the Bancroft Library, countless numbers of East Enders have sought enlightenment and intellectual betterment for themselves and their community, amid social and economic deprivation. The accessibility to local knowledge for the 'forgotten' people of the East End, who were totally bypassed by the renovation of the Docklands, has always been admirable and successful.

The residues of the past are all around us. London is a metropolis in which the innovations of the past inform the innovations of today and the idea of relocating relics of our past is inherently wrong.

It is not a re-clarification of local information availability for the modern age, but a shameless local historical and intellectual 'butchery' by people who seriously underestimate the importance of this building to both young and old members of the community.

The Bancroft is the ideal place for historians and academics to realise their talent and to consolidate it.

Are these council officials fully aware that they will be denying young people easy access to their local history and heritage?

It is disappointing and unnerving that those in office are so short sighted when it comes to the importance of local historical and general knowledge as a means to freedom and wisdom for the people of East London.

What are we to be left with? Without adequate access to local information and historical documents, what is there for the future scholar and local historian, they who have been stifled into submission and boredom by a council which found it easy to put a price on their knowledge and intellect?

It is sadly too late for many lending libraries whose fate has been to be grouped in impersonal heaps (Ideas stores).

But we must fight for the Bancroft. The Weiner collection is important, but so are the documents and information that are held in the Bancroft which are the very roots of our community.

Annette Mackin (aged 19)

Poplar

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