Cathays library

Brief description

Designed in an Arts and Crafts style by Speir & Bevan, architects of Wharton Street, Cardiff – following an open competition. The stained glass is by Harvey & Ashby of Birmingham, and the contractor was W.T. Morgan of Cardiff.

The interior has lots of original features, and is as pretty as the outside. Stained glass windows include depictions of books, and the original circulation desk has been restored and sits in close to its original position. One curiosity that I’ve never seen in another library – a tiled drinking fountain. And this was an original requirement, as we saw it listed in the competition brief to the architects.

Closed in 2009 to be refurbished, and reopened in 2010.

Awarded Grade II* listing in 1975

Current status: Still open as a public library, run by Cardiff City council (2019)

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant: £10,000 (but the project overspent, and council minutes reported a further £409 8s 1d had been requested – and received.)
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 7 March 1907 by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor WS Crossman JP (Carnegie had been invited, but was unable to attend). On the same day, the party of city officials took specially arranged trams and opened the Canton library.

Photo of library today (2019):

Stone building with symetrical wings, each with a tall stained glass window. Between the wings, the central section has a wide entrance doorway, and a narrow spire above
Cathays branch library


Detail of stone carving above the entrance to Cathays library, including the words: Carnegie ... free to the public
Ornate carved stonework above the entrance to Cathays library

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet


Yes, during our holiday in South Wales in June 2019. We spent a long time in the library, looking at original council minutes which detailed the months leading up to the library opening, and original plans – both for the library when it was first built, and for changes both to its interior and exterior later on.

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