Cake was shared and a band played Happy Birthday as volunteers and campaigners celebrated the birthday of a library they had fought hard to save.

Over 150 people braved Saturday’s blizzards to celebrate 79 years since Friern Barnet Library opened its doors for the first time, an event many of them thought would never happen.

Library trustee Keith Martin, 75, said: “Almost a year ago, I was one of 15 people staging a six hour sit-in inside the library in protest at Barnet Borough Council’s plans to shut it. I did not think then we would be celebrating this birthday.

“It gives me great satisfaction to think of all we’ve achieved in saving the library from closure and re-opening it to the public with the help of squatters and local residents.”

As well as sharing cake and listening to speeches from members of the Save Friern Barnet Library campain, partygoers were treated to music from jazz musician Arnie Donoff.

Volunteer Frances Briers, who lives 200 yards from the library in Friern Barnet Road and spent two years fighting to save it, was delighted to be part of the birthday celebrations. “The library was packed, there was plenty of cake and soup, which we were very grateful for after the Barnet Spring march. It was a really lovely occasion.

“We signed up 50 volunteers on the day. Even better, we were able to bring back some of the old equipment and books, including all the local history books - it was a birthday present having them back.”

She added she was looking forward to the library’s 80th birthday celebrations next year.

However, Mr Martin warned this was only the beginning for Friern Barnet Library. 

He said: “We need to build on the tremendous support and enthusiasm to make sure we get a long term lease from Barnet Council, rather than the two year lease we currently have. A long term lease will help us get money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and employ a full time librarian.

“The library’s been here for 79 years already, we want it to be here for another 80.”