Mayor of Islington Cllr Troy Gallagher, centre, with children from Laycock Primary School and some of the Tall Stories team.

Islington’s Central Library renovation sees new hub for acclaimed theatre company and reopening of historic entrance

Islington Council has today (Friday, 25 March) held a special event at the newly-renovated Central Library, which includes a new hub for Tall Stories Theatre Company, who celebrate their 25th anniversary this year.

As part of the project, the library’s original, historic entrance on Holloway Road has also reopened for the first time since the 1970s.

The renovation will give Islington residents the opportunity to watch free shows put on by Tall Stories, many for family audiences, as part of the council’s efforts to give children the best possible start in life. At the launch event today, local schoolchildren were able to see a special preview of The Gruffalo performed by Tall Stories actors.

Tall Stories, who contributed to the renovation process at the historic library, have moved into a new space on the ground floor, which includes a rehearsal studio and an office.

Cllr Una O’Halloran, Executive Member for Community Development, said: “Islington Council wants children and young people in the borough to have access to all the opportunities they need to thrive in life. Tall Stories moving into this new space at Central Library will help us to ensure that they do, allowing them to explore stories and creativity through the wonderful performances that will take place.

“Libraries are such important community assets, where people can go for free education and entertainment. The work that has been done to redecorate and refurbish this historic building will help make it a more welcoming place, and we encourage local people of all ages to pop in and see for themselves!”

Toby Mitchell, Artistic Director of Tall Stories, said: “Since Tall Stories moved into Central Library, we’ve felt very much part of the Islington community. A historic library hosting a storytelling theatre company is proving to be a perfect partnership. And now that the Holloway Road entrance has reopened to the public, we’re looking forward to having an even more prominent presence.” 

First built in 1906, the Holloway Road entrance to the library has been closed since the 1970s, when a new extension was added to the building.

As part of this development, the corridor behind the main entrance on Holloway Road was converted into storage space and the entrance on Fieldway Crescent came into use. The council has restored this corridor to its original purpose, enabling the grand main entrance of the library to be used again.

The renovation project, which began in 2019, also included a reimagining of the reference library on the second floor and the development of a new space for First Steps Learning Centre on the first floor. The most recent update is a complete refurbishment of the lending library, which was completed in January this year.

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