Bromley (Poplar) library

Brief description

The mayor of Poplar heard a speech by Andrew Carnegie in 1902 at the Guildhall, which included his offer to finance public libraries. He responded quickly, and within a  month it had been agreed that £15,000 would be provided for the erection of libraries at Bromley and Cubitt Town.The architects were Squire, Myers and Petch. This library is on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel – now on a busy dual carriageway.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1973.

Current status: Not sure when it closed as a library. Now repurposed as offices (2021)

  • Year grant given (if known): 1902
  • Amount of grant: Part of the £15,000 provided for Bromley-by-Bow and Cubitt Town.
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 1905

Photo of library in 2021 :

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet

Visited?

Driven past a number of times.

Web links:

Torquay library

Brief description

From the History of Torbay library services (linked below): “It was not until June 1903 that a reply was received from Carnegie’s Secretary offering £7,500 for the erection of a public library building providing the Act was adopted, and a site provided, the cost of which would not be a burden on the penny rate. The letter was read at the Council meeting of 29th June 1903 and accepted unanimously. The formal adoption of the 1892 Public Libraries Act was made on 1st September….. It was suggested that the library be incorporated with the Town Hall. “

After a competition which attracted 80 entries, the chosen architect was Thomas Davison, from London.

The firm of R.E. Narracott of Stoke Gabriel were appointed as builders. It soon became obvious the £7,500 was not going to be sufficient and another application was made to Andrew Carnegie who gave a further
£1,400. The foundation stone was laid on 14 February 1906 by the Mayor, John Smerdon.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1975 (note – the Town Hall listing specifically includes the former Carnegie library. The new library is also Grade II listed, and that listing also contains details of the Carnegie building.)

Current status: In 1933, the council decided to build a new library on a site closeby. It was opened in 1938. Council departments then expanded into the former library building. The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust donated £700 for books for the new library. Still open as a public library, run by xx (2021)

  • Year grant given (if known): June 1903
  • Amount of grant: £7,500, plus £1,400
  • Year opened: 2 October 1907, by F. Layland-Barratt, Member of Parliament for Torquay

Photo of library in 2020 :

Former library. Photo credit: Oriel Prizeman 2020. Image shared under CC license CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 Cardiff University AHRC Shelf Life project

Details:

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet

Visited?

Not yet

Web links:

Salisbury library

Brief description

In 1903  Carnegie offered £4,000 toward the cost of a building. £1,000 was raised by public subscription to buy a site, and the building in Chipper Lane opened in 1905. The architect was Alfred Champney Bothams, in a style described as “free Cotswold Tudor-Jacobean”.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1972.

Current status: The library closed in 1975 (and moved to the Market House). the building has been refurbished, and is now called Old Library Chambers. It is currently used as offices by solicitors and accountants. (2020)

  • Year grant given (if known): 1903
  • Amount of grant: £4,000
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 1905

Photo of library in 2020 :

Photo credit: Oriel Prizeman 2020. Image shared under CC license CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 Cardiff University AHRC Shelf Life project

Details:

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet

Visited?

Not yet – although we did pop into the current library in Salisbury during a flying visit.

Web links:

Crosby library

Brief description

The architect was C J Anderson (blog post linked below says Anderson and Crawford, of Liverpool).  Described as being in free Renaissance style.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1996.

Current status: Closed in 2013. It may have been used as a community centre, but numerous plans were put forward which never came to fruition. News report in May 2020 (linked below) mentions plans to refurbish and turn into a “sustainable business hub.” 

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant:
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 1905 (although foundation stone plaque says 1904). Again – blog post differs – says opened in 1906.

Photo of library in 2009 :

Photo credit: Sue Adair. Geograph via wikicommons. Shared by CC BY-SA 2.0

Details:

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet – but the blog post below contains one.

Visited?

Not yet

Web links:

Barry library

Brief description

Following a competition, the architects Charles E. Hutchinson and E. Harding Payne of London were appointed and the building was designed in the Edwardian Baroque style. The complex was built in two stages, with the library completed and opened first, the council offices two years later.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1979.

Current status: Major refurbishment started in 2001, and the library reopened in 2007. Still open as a public library, run by Vale of Glamorgan council (2021)

  • Year grant given (if known): 1903
  • Amount of grant: £8,000
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 1 March 1906 by the Earl of Plymouth

Photo of library in 2007:

Barry Town Hall and library (library is on the right) . cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Tony Hodgegeograph.org.uk/p/272847

Details:

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet

Visited?

Not yet

Web links:

Wrexham library

Brief description

The building was designed in the classical style by Vernon Hodge of Teddington (London). The foundation stone was laid by the Mayoress, Mrs Birkett Evans on 1 January 1906. It was the borough library until 1973.

Awarded Grade II listing.

Current status: No longer a public library, the building in Queen’s Square housed council offices from 1973. The news article linked below from December 2020 announced that the council planned to sell it. (2020)

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant: £4,000 to build plus £300 to furnish
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 15 February 1907 by Sir Foster Cunliffe 

Photo of library in 2015 :

© Copyright Jeff Buck and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet – but the news article linked below contains a photo. As does the Wrexham History site.

Visited?

Not yet

Web links:

  • Entry on Coflein: the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW)
  • Article in the Wrexham Telegraph, 1907
  • History of Wrexham library (Council website)
  • News article: Historic Old Library building on Queen’s Square to be sold off by Wrexham Council (Deember 2020)

Pontypool library

Brief description

The benefactors of this library were Carnegie, who was approached by the Pontypool Urban District Council in 1904, and pledged £2,000, and Mr J. C. Hanbury, who donated the site. The architects were Speir [or Spear] and Beavan, from Cardiff. Mr W. H. Campbell of Pontypool was hired to build the library at a cost of £1,889.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1997.

Current status: Still open as a public library, run by Torfean council. (2020)

  • Year grant given (if known): 1904
  • Amount of grant: £2,000 
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 21 eptember 1908, by Mr J. C.  Hanbury.

Photo of library in 2012 :

Photo credit: Pontypool Library cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Jaggery – geograph.org.uk/p/3328893

Details:

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet

Visited?

Not yet

Web links:

Penarth library

Brief description

The library was built 1904-6 by H Snell, architect to the Windsor estate, in the Free Jacobean style. The contractor was Mr Bond. The site was donated by Lord Windsor. The foundation stone was laid by Samuel Thomas, chairman of the library committee, on 10 September 1904.

While the library was opened in 1905, it was not until 1909 that the council could afford the additional £350 to build the planned caretakers cottage alongside.

The original entrance was through an arched doorway on Stanwell Road (the left of the photo below, and shown in the old postcard). This doorway is now closed, but the painted stained glass is still in place (see photo below). The new entrance is approached by steps or a ramp.

Awarded Grade II listing in 1990

Current status: Still open as a public library, run by Vale of Glamorgan council (2019)

  • Year grant given (if known): 1904
  • Amount of grant: £4,000
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 30 August 1905 by Lord Windsor.

Photo of library today (2019):

Two storey stone building on a corner site,
Penarth library

Details:

Arched doorway with ornate stone surround, stained glass and green painted wood
Original doorway to Penarth library
Bronze plaque commemorating Lord Windsor who gave the site, and Andrew Carnegie who provided £4,000 for construction of the library
Bronze plaque in Penarth library

Old photo of library (postcard):

old postcard showing Penarth library

Visited?

Yes, during our holiday in South Wales in June 2019.

Web links:

Canton library

Brief description

Designed by R M Bruce Vaughan, architect of Cardiff. The building was largely unaltered apart from some rebuilding following a fire in c1990. Then in 2014, it underwent a £829,000 refurbishment .

Awarded Grade II listing in 2001

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

  • Year grant given (if known):
  • Amount of grant: £5,000
  • Year opened (and by who – if known): 7 March 1907 by Alderman David Jones JP (Carnegie had been invited, but was unable to attend). On the same day, the party of city officials had taken specially arranged trams and come from the opening of Cathays library.

Photo of library today (2019):

Ornate carved stonework around the entrance to Canton library - gothic pointed windows and the words: Carnegie library. Free to the public.
Entrance to Canton library. Carved in the stonework: Carnegie library. Free to the public

Details:

Stone plaque which states that Canton Branch library was erected at a cost of £5,000 given to the citizens by Andrew Carnegie Esquire LLD. 1906
Stone plaque on the front of Canton library

Old photo of library (postcard):

Nothing in my collection yet

Visited?

Yes, during our holiday in South Wales in June 2019.

Web links:

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

Details:

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

Visited?

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.

Web links: