Pontefract library

Brief description

Intriguingly, when citizens of Pontefract were first asked (in 1897) whether they wanted a free library, 700 voted against, and only 150 for. When Carnegie was initially approached by a newspaper, he replied that it seemed the people did not want a library, however when the Town Clerk wrote to him, he agreed to award funding.

The architects of this beautiful art nouveau style library were Garside and Pennington, whose plans were provided in 1903. Apparently George Pennington, a devout Methodist, tendered his services free of charge. Construction started in 1904, and the library was built by Henry Gundill. The mosaic in the entrance hall says ‘Free Library 1904’ -although it wasn’t officially opened until 1905.

It was awarded Grade II listing in 1975.

Current status: No longer a public library, when the new library was built,this building became the town’s museum in 1978. (still is: 2016)

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant: £2,588 (initially £2250, but they overran)
  • Year opened: 21 September 1905 by JG Lyon JP.

Photo of building today (2011):





The beautiful art nouveau interior is at its best in the tiled entrance hall.

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet


Yes, in 2011, and spent a while digging up background information about the library in the local history collection.

Web links:


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