The first announcement of the offer by Andrew Carnegie of funding for the erection of a new public library for Middlesbrough was made at a meeting of the Free Library and Museum Committee in 1908. 203 designs were submitted and Mr Edwin Cooper FRIBA was appointed architect (refered to as Sir Thomas Edwin Cooper on the ShelfLife website – mybe promoted later?). The heritage listing also mentions S B Russell. Mr Henry McNaughton’s tender for construction was accepted and the foundation stone was laid by Councillor Walter Roberts.
One feature to note, you can still see the separate entrance which gave access to the Juvenile Library (its name is carved in stone above the door). This is described in the architects’ description as: “the secondary entrance which gives access to the Juvenile Library enabling children to approach it without entering that part of the building where their presence is not desired”. The library also contained a ladies’ reading room and general newsroom.
Current status: a public library operated by Middlesbrough Borough Council. (2021)
- Year grant given (if known): January 1908 and foundation stone laid 2 May 1910
- Amount of grant: £15,000
- Year opened (and by who – if known): opened by Alderman Amos Hinton JP on 8 May 1912
Photo of library in 2016:
The reference room
Unfortunately, while there are shiny brass plaques giving details of all involved in opening the library, they are behind equally shiny perspex, so my photos contain more reflections than detail!
Old photo of library (postcard):
There is still an open space in front of this library, and trees, but no bandstand.
I visited this library in July 2016. Downstairs was busy, and there were a couple of people reading in the wonderful upstairs reading room.
- Entry on the listed buildings register
- News: Plans to turn ‘daunting’ central library into flagship destination for families. (2017)
- Featured as an “archetype” library on the Shelf-Life project website, page links to: Video walkthrough (YouTube)