Library reopens as Beecroft art gallery

Artist Gina Warner,Steve McCartney, of Southend Arts Council, and curatorial manager Clare Hunt outside the former central library

Artist Gina Warner,Steve McCartney, of Southend Arts Council, and curatorial manager Clare Hunt outside the former central library

First published in News by

SOUTHEND’S former central library is reopening as the town’s new civic art gallery after a year-long revamp.

The Seventies glass and concrete building in Victoria Avenue will reopen on Saturday as the new Beecroft Art Gallery after a £300,000 refit.

The new gallery will open with an exhibition of bathing suits from the 1940s to the 1960s and paintings of local scenes.

An official opening takes place in September.

Manager Clare Hunt said: “It’s a great building and I have learned to love it more and more since I have come here.

“There are nice modernist features. No expense was spared when it was built.

“It is a high-quality building and as a gallery it looks really good.”

Pride of place in the gallery is a painting of Walter Beecroft, the Leigh solicitor who bought the Station Road hotel as a temporary display space, intending to establish a permanent gallery elsewhere.

Graham Longley, deputy leader of Southend Council and councillor responsible for culture, said: “We hope as many people as possible will be able to come along and enjoy the Beecroft Gallery’s fabulous works of art on display.

“This new location is ideal for the Beecroft’s pictures and other artworks. We have the room to host the region’s only dedicated costume exhibition collection.

“It is a wonderful way to share our borough’s art heritage.”

The Beecroft’s new bigger home means a third more artworks can be displayed.

Comments (2)

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3:16pm Tue 5 Aug 14

The King of Southend says...

Excellent news.
Excellent news. The King of Southend
  • Score: 2

7:20pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Bosniavet says...

So, let me get this right - this building was declared unfit for use as a library due to it's unsuitability for the storage of books, which necessitated SBC spending in excess of £10 million on a new library which is of more use to the "university" than the general public who funded the largest portion of it. Yet after "only" £300k of refurbishment work this building is now suitable for the storage & display of artworks which require better conditions than your average paper or hardback book. Something seems a bit odd here. Don't get me wrong, I realise that our art collection needs somewhere to be displayed, but surely this proves we could have completely rebuilt the Beecroft Gallery & refurbished the Victoria Avenue Library for considerably less than we paid for the white elephant that is the Forum.
So, let me get this right - this building was declared unfit for use as a library due to it's unsuitability for the storage of books, which necessitated SBC spending in excess of £10 million on a new library which is of more use to the "university" than the general public who funded the largest portion of it. Yet after "only" £300k of refurbishment work this building is now suitable for the storage & display of artworks which require better conditions than your average paper or hardback book. Something seems a bit odd here. Don't get me wrong, I realise that our art collection needs somewhere to be displayed, but surely this proves we could have completely rebuilt the Beecroft Gallery & refurbished the Victoria Avenue Library for considerably less than we paid for the white elephant that is the Forum. Bosniavet
  • Score: 2

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