Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library

We are the friends of the Tate South Lambeth Library, 180 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1QP. For official information about the library, including opening hours and contact details, please visit the library’s own website here.

Tate Free Library design

What we do

Enhancing links to the local community

Friends have organised activities geared to enhancing the library’s links to the local community. These include:

  • events directed at the large Portuguese population in Lambeth, with a week-long Portuguese festival, a talk and exhibition on Portugal’s leading 19th century novelist, readings of Portuguese poetry, and a Portuguese wine-tasting session. Friends also secured donations of Portuguese-language books from the education section of the Portuguese consulate and from the Montepio Bank and English translations of Portuguese titles from a Gulbenkian-funded arts charity
  • retelling local memories of the 1930s and 1940s
  • talks on famous local people (illustrator Arthur Rackham, gardening pioneers the John Tradescants, poet Drummond Allison – the latter two in cooperation with Lambeth Libraries in the May literary festivals – and on locating the grave of William Blake, in cooperation with the Blake Society)
  • a personal local acccount of post-war slum clearances in the local area
  • a performance of poetry and music to celebrate Black History Month (in cooperation with the Lambeth library service)
  • an Afro-Brazilian music and drumming workshop for local children
  • poetry workshops for both adults and teenagers
  • two local archaeology workshops
  • celebrations of Bloomsday, St George’s Day, Burns Night, the Portuguese national day and International Women’s Day
  • hosting the launch event for the Stockwell Festivals in 2001-2005
  • staging exhibitions and talks as part of the Vauxhall Festival in 2001-2003
  • establishing a gardening club, based on the courtyard garden
  • screening films (free of charge)
  • craft shows giving a platform for local craftspeople

Tate Local – an art gallery within the library

Friends have developed Tate Local, a new gallery space within the library, whose aim is to showcase artwork from within the local community – schools, groups and individual artists.

We ran a continuous programme of exhibitions there from  2000 to 2017. These  included:

  • etchings by Paula Rego
  • artwork by Lilia Pegado, Geoff Routh, Aldous Eveleigh, Ian Montgomerie, David Western, May Anderson, David Taborn and Munirah Olton
  • Notting Hill Carnival costumes
  • artwork from local workshops for the over-50s and from Lambeth Mencap
  • artwork from local primary and secondary schools

Art workshops were also run for classes from local primary schools, with a series of nine held in the two school years 2001/02 and 2002/03.

Since 2018 responsibility for the art space has  devolved to library staff, owing to the absence of volunteers to run it.


Renovating the library

Friends have promoted the renovation and refurbishment of this landmark library, which was built in 1888 and is one of the first public libraries in Lambeth. This has included:

  • a new sign outside (funded by Friends)
  • a large mural in the children’s area and three large oil paintings in the reading room (secured through donations to Friends)
  • restoring the reading room to its former size and repainting it (funded by Friends, with work by students at Lambeth College)
  • repainting the lobby and the kitchen (funded by Friends, with work by students at Lambeth College)
  • rehabilitating the exterior (a Friends-proposed project, funded by LBL and with work by Lambeth College students)
  • installing a film-showing facility and blinds in the smaller reading room(funded by a Ward Purse grant secured by Friends), with additional funding by CLS Holdings for a skylight blind, allowing daytime and summer evening screenings
  • renovating the derelict back yard and installing a small garden, creating Tradescant’s Retreat (funded by Friends and by a Ward Purse grant secured by Friends)
  •  opening up Tradescant’s Retreat as a public space by installing CCTV and a “see-through” gate (with funding secured by Friends from CLS Holdings)
  • buying furniture for the library and toys for the parent-toddler sessions from the proceeds of book sales run by Friends
  • installing a large external notice board, funded by donations from CLS Holdings and Citywire Financial Publishers
  • buying board games and computer games for the children and teen sessions
  • providing a laptop bar
  • providing gazebos, display tables and generators for the library’s community market
  • buying a large rug, two playmats and large cushions for the children’s library
  • providing library door notices to give modified timing under Covid 19 restrictions
  • buying speakerphone for use in hybrid  (face to face and over internet) meetings at the library
  • buying an additional blackout blind for film screening sessions


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