Dear Letters Editor
With due pride but no hint of irony, Councilor Jim Moher announces that the ‘Welcome Mandela’ plaque – made to commemorate Nelson’s Mandela’s 1990 visit to London – is to be installed in Brent Council’s expensive new ‘civic centre’ as a belated fitting memorial to the great man (Mandela and Brent, 26 June).
Ninety years prior to Mandela’s visit and his shameful treatment by Brent Council’s Tories, another famous overseas visitor to the north-west London borough – then Willesden – was commemorated by local politicians. Until it was removed in a shameful dawn raid 18 months ago, a brass plaque marked the opening in 1900 of Kensal Rise Library by Mark Twain, author of Huckleberry Finn (Kensal Rise Library stripped in night of books and Twain plaque, 29 May 2012).
Councillor Moher – together with his wife – was a Brent councillor and member of the ruling Labour group at the time of last year’s shameful event (both remain so). Perhaps he’d like to add his voice to the campaign to save this historic library, part funded by Andrew Carnegie and built on land owned by All Souls Oxford, by writing to Sir John Vickers, warden of the college – and chairman of the Independent Commission on Banking – requesting that the building be returned to its rightful use. The commemorative plaque could then be restored to its rightful place – inside the local library, not the civic centre. Brent Council’s and All Souls’ reputations could then rise from the ashes of this shabby episode.
19a Ellington Street
LONDON N7 8PN