Irchester library

Brief description

The article linked below contains an anecdote from Bunty Garland – Irchester resident. Apparently “Carnegie was a regular visitor to her grandparents’ house in the neighbouring town of Rushden, where he would buy hides from her grandfather’s cattle farm. He would stay overnight after visiting the chapel, where he is believed to have occasionally preached. In 1904, Mrs Garland’s grandparents persuaded Carnegie to donate £1,200 to the Parish Council on the proviso that the land for the library be donated so that the cost would not be a burden upon the penny rate. Lady Wantage, who owned most of the village at the time, donated the current site on the village high street.”

On the 100th birthday of the library, the community reenacted the opening ceremony

Current status: Still open as a public library, run by the new Wellbeing CIC, on behalf of Northamptonshire County Council (2016) Update 2018 – under threat of closure

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant: £1,200
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 20 November 1909, by by the Hon Sir Edward Chandos Leigh and Lady Leigh, who resided at Knuston Hall.

Photo of library today (2006):



Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet


Yes, in 2006

Web links:


Kettering library

Brief description

The architects were Goddard, Paget and Catlow, and their design is described as being in Arts and Crafts style, or Early Renaissance. Lots of local materials were used – the red Sandstock bricks came from Hemel Hempstead, the stone is Ketton, from Edith Weston Quarries, and the roof is slated with Collyweston slates.

Land for the library was donated by a group of townsmen: Henry Gale Gotch, Harry W Mobbs, Thomas A Mursell, Charles W Stringer and William Timpson. There is a plaque recording their generosity in the library.

The building was opened by Carnegie himself, and during the official ceremony, he issued and stamped the library’s first-ever loan: a copy of his own book The Gospel of Wealth. Special trains were laid on to bring guests form Scotland – and many thousands of people attended the ceremony.

When the library was refurbished in 2012-13, the re-opening  was a reenactment of the original ceremony.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1976.

Current status: Still open as a public library, run as a LibraryPlus by Northamptonshire County Council (2018). The council is in financial difficulties, and there are harsh proposals which would see many libraries in the county close, but Kettering library is on the list of those which will remain.

  • Year grant given (if known): 10 June, 1902 (after the letter requesting funds had been sent on 25 October 1901)
  • Amount of grant: £8,450
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 7 May 1904, by Andrew Carnegie

Photo of library today (2018):


Photo of library in 2006:


nb looking at google streetview in 2016, that bus shelter and railings have been removed, and there is a much wider pavement in front of the library. Still quite  lot of ivy, but you can see the crest carved above the door. Must still be quite dark in those left hand side rooms though.



Plaque commemorating the opening of the library, found just inside the front door.


Original plans for the library, showing separate children’s library (top left) and the space (bottom right) which was originally occupied by a museum.


Old photo of library (postcard):



Yes, in 2006. Must go back and see if the have removed any of that ivy!

Update: We visited again in May 2018, and the library was open, and busy, on a Saturday afternoon. The librarian showed me lots of photos of the library through various stages of its evolution, including what is now the adult fiction section, which was originally a huge newspaper reading area. She also showed me the original plans.

About the outside – apparently a lot of the ivy was removed and creeper was removed when the building was refurbished in 2012, but a lot of it has grown back. A visible reminder of the refurb is the original parquet floor, which was revealed when the old floor covering was removed.

Web links:

Rushden library

Brief description

The architect was Mr WB Madin, the town surveyor, and the builder was Mr W Packwood. Opened in 1905, there was a substantial refurbishment and expansion in 1995. Backroom functions of the library were transferred to the neighbouring council building and an atrium was built, which provided both buildings with disabled access for the first time and allowed the library to expand considerably.

Current status: still a library [2018], now managed by Northamptonshire County council under its new LibraryPlus model.

  • Year grant given (if known): 1902
  • Amount of grant: £2,000 (initially – later increased to £2,500)
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): Saturday 25 November 1905 by the Marquis of Northampton

Photo of library today (2011):




Old photo of library (postcard):

Not yet in my collection


Seen from the outside only, as it was closed when we drove through Rushden in 2011

Web links:

Northampton library

Brief description

The architect was Herbert Norman, and the builder was AA Clarke. It was one of the first libraries in the world to have a children’s library (opened in 1912). The library was refurbished in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. It was made a Grade II listed building in 1975.

Current status: Still the main town library.

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant: £15,000
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 9 June 1910 by Alderman H Butterfield, Mayor of Northampton

Photo of library today:




The Carnegie Room



Note this is one of the Carnegie libraries to display a bust of the funder (top right) as part of the exterior decoration (others include Manor Park and Walthamstow)


Old photo of library (postcard):



Visited several times 2015-17, related to Libraries Taskforce meetings – one time we held a Taskforce meeting actually in the Carnegie Room.

Web links: