Plymouth library

Brief description

Architects were Thornely and Rooke. On Wednesday 16 October 1907 the two foundation stones for Plymouth’s new Free Public Library and the Museum and Art Gallery were laid on a site on Tavistock Road (now North Hill). It was opened in 1910 in a dual ceremony with the City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery.

Damaged during the Blitz and subsequently restored.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1975

Current status: Closed as a public library, when a new one was created in a former commercial building in the centre of the city. Plans are to refurbish and reopen as a history centre. (2018)

    • Year grant given (if known):
    • Amount of grant:
    • Year opened (and by who – if known): 1910


Photo of library in 2014:


Photo © N Chadwick (cc-by-sa/2.0)


Old photo of library (postcard):



I went to Plymouth in August 2018, but refurbishment plans were in progress, and the whole building was shrouded in scaffolding. The new local history centre should open by 2020. A colleague from Plymouth libraries has sent me masses of information about this building. I’ll review and update this entry shortly [Sept 3028].

Web links:

Bideford library

Brief description

The library was designed by Alfred Dunn, of Birmingham, and built by H Glover and Son, of Bideford. The library is a single storied building, next to the town hall – the rear part of which had been built in 1850. Two years after the library opened, a museum was added, although that later moved out.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1973.

Current status: Still open as a public library, run by Libraries Unlimited on behalf of Devon county council. (2016)

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant:
  • Year opened: 7 February 1906 by Mr C.S. Carnegie from Northam, a relative of Andrew Carnegie.

Photo of library today (2010):




Old photo of library (postcard):



Yes, we visited this library, during a holiday in Devon in 2010.

Web links:

Exeter library

Brief description

A compressed timeline:

1909 – grant offered
1911 – grant accepted and new library announced
1917 – scheme reconsidered due to WW1
1921 – returned to idea, funding still available
1924 – council agreed planning could start
1928 – foundation stone laid
1930 – new library opened

Then, 1942 – library bombed and burned out – but restored after the war
1950s – building housed Devon Records Office
1965 – new library built next door
Early 2000s – became registry office
2010 – refurbished: upper floors became student flats, ground floor rented to firm of solicitors

  • Year grant given: 1911
  • Amount of grant:
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 1930

Photo of library today:



I’ve visited Exeter library several times – in 2015 and 2016.

Web links:

Exeter Memories (which contains a lot more detail on the timeline above)