Kensal Rise library

Brief description

The library was  built on land belonging to All Souls College, Oxford, by Architects Done Hunter and Co. of Cricklewood. It was built in two stages, first a reading room and librarian’s office, but when that became too small, the decision was made to appeal to Carnegie for funds to enlarge the building and make space for a lending library. The extension was also designed by Done Hunter and Co – specifically, their architect Murray Rust.

Current status: Closed by Brent council in 2011, but re-opened and run by a community group in 2019  (2019)

  • Year grant given (if known): 1903
  • Amount of grant: £3000
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): Reading room opened on 27 September 1900, by Mark Twain, and the library by Judge Rentoul on 13 May 1904.

Photo of library in 2011:


Photo © Robin Webster (cc-by-sa/2.0)


Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet


Not yet

Web links:

The start of a long project

Here we go!

I’ve been collecting information about libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie for many years and blogged about it on one of my other sites). First by painstaking scanning through indexes and borrowing books from libraries, then as more became available on the internet, my small collection of notes and postcards has become a large and fairly unwieldy.

As many have reached their centenary year, there is a lot more information to discover, as libraries produce celebratory booklets and there is coverage in local newspapers.

In many cases a 100 year old building is no longer the right space to host a modern public library. If the original carnegie building is still in use as a library, it is interesting to chart the changes that have been made. However, if the decision has been made to close it, its equally interesting to see the new uses to which they are put. There are not as many ‘rescue’ projects as you see in countries where 100 year old buildings are unusual  – in many US towns the carnegie library may have been the first stone or brick built structure and there are fascinating projects where the whole building has been moved to a new location – but there are many which are now art galleries, museums, or even have been converted to residential use.

Through this site I’ll chart the Carnegie legacy – primarily in England, but also those libraries I’ve visited in other countries.