A ‘hidden gem’ of London’s radical and working class history will soon be opening its doors to the public for the first time.
The Marx Memorial Library (37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU) will from 14 April 2015 offer public tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1pm.
This will allow people to visit the room and desk where Lenin worked in exile in London in 1902/3, see the banners of the British Battalion of volunteers in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 and view artefacts from major industrial disputes, such as the minerworkers’ and Wapping strikes of the 1980s. These include a unique collection of over 100 commemorative ceramic plates created by the National Union of Mineworkers and its branches.
Also on display will be a Hammersmith Socialist Society Banner embroidered by William Morris’ family, dating from the early 1890s, along with original posters from the Spanish Civil War and the Soviet Union.
In addition the Grade II listed building’s historic vaults, which date back to the fifteenth century, can be visited, as well as a memorial courtyard dedicated to media workers killed in the 20th century war against fascism, from Spain in 1936 to victory in Europe in 1945.
Until now visits to the Library have been by appointment only, or on special occasions.
The Library was founded by a group of socialists in 1933 in response to the Burning of the Books by the Nazis in May of that year and has been at the heart of the British labour movement ever since.
The Library’s Archivist, Meirian Jump, said: “We have a fascinating story to tell and we hope to welcome as many visitors as possible to be inspired by our amazing collections.”
She added: “Everyone who enters the building agrees that we are one of London’s hidden gems. We hope that from 14 April thousands more people will be able to understand why this is so.”