In 1903 active local Members of the Council privately approached Andrew Carnegie. They succeeded in securing from him a donation of £7,000 provided that the Council raised a 1d rate (the maximum local tax then permitted by law to be used for public libraries) which produced an operating budget of £610 per annum.
The architect was W Egerton, who designed a building in the ‘Free Renaissance’ style.
The new Erith Library was opened in 1906 at Walnut Tree Road, and an early local guide proudly states that it contained “lending and reference libraries, news, magazines and children’s rooms, and lecture, committee and filing rooms. The first librarian was William Barton Young, who was killed in action in WWI.
The library has been re-modelled internally many times, the last complete re-fit being in the year 2000.
Awarded Grade II listing in 1996.
Current status: No longer a public library, not sure if the museum which used to share the building is still open. (2016)
- Year grant given (if known): 1903
- Amount of grant: £7,000
- Year opened (and by who – if known): 7 April 1906, by Judge James Alexander Rentoul
Photo of library today (2006):
Old photo of library (postcard):
Nothing in my collection yet
Yes, in 2006 – before it closed completely, although it wasn’t open the day we visited.
Web links and other references:
- Entry on the listed buildings register
- History of Erith museum
- Details about this, and all libraries in Kent found in a 3 part article written by Martin Tapsell: The Hare and the Tortoise – some notable public library buildings in Kent, published in Bygone Kent 2001-02.