Plymouth library

Brief description

The architects were Messrs Thornely and Rooke of Plymouth. 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), by the Mayor, Mr J F Winnicott.

Contractors, Messrs Pethick Brothers Limited, also of Plymouth, started work on the site on December 9 1907. The final cost of the work is said to have been £15,627 14s 6d.

There was a dual opening ceremony on Tuesday October 25th 1910, when the Mayor, Alderman J Yeo, together with architect Mr Lionel Thornely, opened the Library and Alderman T Brook, chairman of the Museum and Art Gallery Committee, along with the Deputy Mayor, Alderman R W Winnicott, and Mr Rooke, opened the Museum part of the building.

The building was 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: £15,000
    • Year opened (and by who – if known): 25 October 1910, by the Mayor, Alderman J Yeo, and architect Mr Lionel Thornely

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: