Kensal Rise Library

Introducing: The Library Apartments & Twain House

With work on the Library Apartments and Twain House now complete and the Library space handed over to the Friends of Kensal Rise Library's team it seems like time to show you the results of our hard work.

We're very proud of our work, restoring the building, creating unique new homes and ensuring it continues to have a life as a library and hub for the community. 


We are happy to say all bar one apartment are now sold  but if you'd like to see what properties we have available do have a look here and if you'd like to stay up to date with what we are up to email or sign up to our mailing list below.

Help Kensal Rise Library fill their shelves

While work continues on the Reading Rooms and The Library House in Kensal Rise, The Friends of Kensal Rise Library are busy raising funds to fit out their new library.

The local community has been hard at work baking cakes, running pub quizzes, hosting talks with famous actors and a group of entrepreneurial school children have even been selling lemonade, and so far they have successfully raised over £45,000! But they need your help to reach their target of £80,000 by the end of July, so dig deep and donate here on their fundraising page.

The £80,00 they need will be used to cover the basic fit-out including flooring, plumbing, heating, plastering and decorating. And of course to help them fill their shelves with books. In the words of one donator:

"Every community deserves a library. It should be a right not a privilege."

We couldn't agree more. If you think so too and would like to help, grab your purse and donate here.



In Celebration of World Book Day; A History Of Our Favourite Library

Happy World Book Day the perfect chance to celebrate two of our favourite things, Kensal Rise Library and History. What better time to share with you the story of how this unique part of London's literary history came to be.

Kensal Rise Library

Kensal Rise Library was built in 1900 as a Public Reading Room, as part of an effort to improve a predominantly poor area. Following the building boom in London at the end of the previous century, the housing and population in Kensal Green had become much denser. The land was donated to Willesden Council by All Souls College, Oxford, under a restricted covenant stating that it could only be used as a free public reading room and library. Cricklewood architects Done, Hunter & Co. designed the building and it was built by a firm from Exeter.


Mark Twain, who was staying at nearby Dollis Hill House that summer, and had educated himself in public libraries, was invited to openthe public reading room and donated five of his own books. The building would have been gas lit, with open coal fires, and it made newspapers available for everyone in the local area to read.


In 1903, Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated £3,000 to extend the building, and the following year the public reading room became a library. In 1922, it became the first library in Willesden to allow people to choose their own books from the shelves. In 1934, a Children’s Library and study room were created upstairs. 

During the war, the library suffered some minor bomb damage, and firewatchers spent nights in the attic, making use of its views across London. With the arrival of TV in the 1960s, the reading room became less popular and was closed, and major structural changes were made to update the building. The library passed from the Borough of Willesden to the new Borough of Brent.    

Threatened with closure more than once over the years, the library was closed by Brent Council in 2010. The local community, led by The Friends of Kensal Rise Library, mounted a campaign to save the library, which was supported by high-profile writers such as Alan Bennett and Phillip Pullman, and received a lot of national press coverage. Resisting council plans and rejecting proposals from developers, they took their case to the high court and won. And they created a pop-up library outside the building in the meantime. 

As the result of a dedicated five-year campaign, the library will re open this year. Uplift Property has worked with The Friends of Kensal Rise Library to agree a restoration of the building that is sensitive and sympathetic. The ground floor will be a public library once again, while the upstairs is converted into new housing. On 6th June 2015, members of the community celebrated reclaiming their public space at an open day, along with team Uplift and The Friends of Kensal Rise Library. 

If you would like to find out more about The Friends of Kensal Rise Library, take a look at their website here. And if this story has got you intrigued about the beautiful apartments, The Reading Rooms, above the library, great news they are now available to buy off plan. Just email to find out more.

Hooray and a big congratulations

This week has started with some excellent news. The London Borough of Brent has announced Margaret Bailey, chair of The Friends Of Kensal Rise Library, as one of it's 2015 Community Champions for her work in bringing the library back to life. After working closely with her over the last few months, we can honestly say that we couldn't think of anyone who deserves it more. Working tirelessly to give the community back its library, she has championed its values and has been absolute pleasure to work with.

We would just like to say hooray and a huge congratulations to Margaret and all the Friends of Kensal Rise Library.

We can't wait to get the library open for you all.

An interview with our favourite graphic artist Alex Green aka MSTR Gringo

Alex creates colourful, bold graphic illustrations, with handmade touches and sometimes found objects. We love his work so much, we have commissioned him to brighten up the hoarding outside our developments. You might recognise him from the amazing hoarding outside Kensal Rise library, or most recently, the William Morris inspired piece outside The Red House on Elers Road, Ealing.

Alex Green for FWD magazine

We are so inspired we wanted to know more. So last week Naomi caught up with Alex to find out more about what inspires him.

Hey Alex, I know you've been really busy working on some new commissions for Uplift, but what else have you been up to?

I'm currently working with Breddos Tacos on their restaurant fit outs which has been great. It's allowed me to explore different areas of design, which for me is super important. 

Menu designs for Breddos Taccos by Alex Green

Love those - you've got a great eye for colour. Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I come from up North near Bradford, so growing up David Hockney was definitely a big influence of mine. Exploring his work on a rainy Sunday at the mills, is one of the first memories I have when I really connected with art. Not only his use of colours but also of different mediums inspired me. Other early influences were Kadinsky and M.C Escher

Hollywood Pool by David Hockney

Hockney's paintings have some great textures in them, I can definitely see that influence in your work. Can you tell us a little about the creative process you go through?

This is something that always seems to be evolving, but I try to use my computer as little as possible. Good advice I was given was to use the computer as a tool rather then a solution. It should never be a starting point. I love using found imagery, little pieces scrap paper and rubbish, which people may disregard. These little things are triggers in my design process. And I always look to the environment of the project and use it to inform the design. It's a big part of why I love doing the hoarding projects so much.

Yeah the hoarding projects are pretty unique. What else do you enjoy about working on them?

Getting to know a new part of the country that I would most likely never see. Trying to get my teeth into that area through documenting local people, architecture, history etc...

The Hoarding outside Kensal Rise Library by Alex Green

So nice to catch up with you Alex, thanks for popping round. Where can people go to see more of your work?


Happy hoarding

Thanks to lots of hard work from brilliant Alex (,  the hoarding outside Kensal Rise Library is finished and looking pretty sharp.

We've had a great reaction from the local community. This poem by 7 year old Darshan has moved people to tears.

And these stunning photos of the work in progress, were sent to us by local photographer Fausto, who said the project has inspired him to get involved in the community group. See more of his brilliant work here:

So if you are in the area, go check it out and let us know what you think @UpliftProperty