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Article date - 12 February 2020
Situated in Victoria Square in St Helens town centre, the Gamble building was built in the late 1800s and officially opened in 1896, a gift to the people of St Helens by Sir David Gamble. The Archive Service is still based there, along with many council staff, but sadly since 2017 the library has been closed due to damage making that section of the building unsafe.
St Helens Council is committed to bringing the Gamble building back into full use and has announced a number of engagement drop-in events that will take place in a retail unit next to Hays Travel on Church Street from 3-5 March.
Council Leader David Baines said:
“We’ve made it very clear that we want to see this iconic building restored and fully open. It belongs to the people of St Helens and with its 125th anniversary taking place in 2021 there's no better time to reopen it to the public.
"While we are fully committed to repairing and reopening the Gamble, it’s important we take this opportunity to make sure it is used in the right way for the greatest benefit to St Helens. We need to look at its long-term sustainability, and protect it for future generations.”
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Estates and Communication, said:
“We’re keen to hear from as many residents and community groups as possible on how we can use the building in the future – whether it’s for cultural, educational, heritage, arts or social purposes – so I’d encourage anyone able to do so to attend these events and put their suggestions forward.
“We have had a really positive reaction to the engagement events we're running on the future of Earlestown Town Hall, and I hope we’ll get a similarly good response on the Gamble building, which means a great deal to so many people.”
Regarding the town centre Library Service, which is due to move into the World of Glass, Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Libraries, said:
"Our St Helens Library Service is outstanding, with high quality provision right across the borough, and we remain committed to having a quality library in St Helens town centre.
“Work is expected to commence this month to provide a library in the World of Glass, and it's only right that we ask the public and community groups what they would like to see the Gamble used for long-term – whether that's a library or some aspects of library services. Whatever is decided, we will have a quality library and the full range of services available to residents in St Helens town centre.”
As well as the drop-in events, residents can also have their say online by visiting www.sthelens.gov.uk/council/public-consultation from Monday 2 March until Friday 27 March. More information will be provided in the coming weeks.
Erected in 1896, the Gamble Institute as it was then known, began life as a library and technical school.
In November 2016, a number of celebratory events were held to mark its 120th anniversary.