Archant-owned weekly the East London Advertiser has claimed a victory in its campaign to save Bancroft History Library and archives after creating a petition on the Number 10 website.
The petition, addressed to Gordon Brown, was signed by 1,319 people and attracted celebrity support from Sir Ian McKellen, Benjamin Zephaniah, George Galloway and people across the world who have used the library for their research.
Tower Hamlets council was planning to sell the Bancroft Library building to Queen Mary College, University of London, for £1.2m.
But now it has backed down from the threat to close a facility which is widely used by people researching both family history and the history of London.
East London Advertiser deputy editor Ted Jeory said: ‘We broke the story and, through print and the internet, mobilised a huge army of grassroots supporters as well as the great and the good.
‘We had the council on the back foot from day one and exposed the paucity of their arguments at every step.
‘At first the council didn’t realise the significance of the issue, that to sell on the cheap a building representing the multicultural heritage of the East End–which is so central to the history of London itself–would be too much for people to stomach.
‘We had our fingers on the pulse, as newspapers should do.
‘Much good has come out of our campaign and crucially the council will now work to ensure the gems contained in Bancroft are seen and read by a much wider audience.
Advertiser editor Malcolm Starbrook said: ‘The success of the Advertiser’s campaign not only demonstrates the effectiveness of a local newspaper fighting to support the community it serves: but also illustrates how important a weapon it is in tackling problems that could blight any community whether they are environmental, political, cultural or, in this example, fundamentally important to the heritage of everyone living or working in the East End of London.”