By Juliana Lucas
The national Black Cultural Archives (BCA), in Windrush Square, Brixton, will finally open next year after appointing new building contractors.
Organisers were unable to open the centre for this summer’s Olympics after builders working to convert Raleigh Hall into the archives’ new home went bust in April.
Contractors Rooff Ltd have now been awarded the contract to complete the work, with a total project cost of nearly £5.5m. It is hoped the work will be completed by September next year.
The BCA, which will house thousands of black historical records, received £4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £1m from the London Development Agency.
Devon Thomas, chair of the Raleigh Hall Action Group has now raised the hopes of black Britons who want to see the centre up and running.
He told the Bugle: “This is the culmination of 30 years of struggle by the Black communities to have their role in history recognised by the mainstream society.
“Although the recent delay of the building works has been a disappointment we are a people with patience, otherwise we wouldn’t even have got this far!”
Thomas added: “We will be getting a first class institution based in the heart of our most prominent community, saving and distributing our history and heritage through the land, giving all those who want it, access to it for research, education, enlightenment and anything else we choose to do with it! “
The centre has also been hit by the resignation of its chair, Matthew Ryder QC. Mr Ryder stepped down in February having served for two years.
The centre was co-founded by Lenford Garrison, an educationalist in 1981, to ensure that black history is properly recorded and celebrates the contribution of black people of African descent from Britain’s official history.
The BCA, which has the support of the Mayor Boris Johnson, hopes to become the leading institution for Black heritage and culture in the UK.