History in Structure

Former Library and Council Offices

A Grade II Listed Building in Hinckley, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.5401 / 52°32'24"N

Longitude: -1.3726 / 1°22'21"W

OS Eastings: 442646

OS Northings: 293764

OS Grid: SP426937

Mapcode National: GBR 7LZ.MT0

Mapcode Global: VHCSX.5F64

Plus Code: 9C4WGJRG+2W

Entry Name: Former Library and Council Offices

Listing Date: 8 February 1979

Last Amended: 4 October 2023

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1074233

English Heritage Legacy ID: 188186

ID on this website: 101074233

Location: Hinckley, Hinckley and Bosworth, Leicestershire, LE10

County: Leicestershire

District: Hinckley and Bosworth

Electoral Ward/Division: Hinckley Castle

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Hinckley

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Hinkley St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

Tagged with: Library building

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Former Library of 1888, designed by Isaac Barradale. Adjoining Council Offices to the south constructed in 1903 by F C Cook.


Former library of 1888, designed by Isaac Barradale. Adjoining Council Offices to the south constructed in 1903 by F C Cook.

MATERIALS: red brick with terracotta and limestone details and steeply pitched red tile roof.

PLAN: the library and offices form a linear range fronting Station Road, with further projecting ranges to the rear.


EXTERIOR: the former library forms the northern half of the Station Road elevation, it has three projecting bays each with different treatments. Between these projecting bays at first floor window sill level is an ornamental moulded brickwork cornice. The projecting left hand bay contains the entrance porch, with a buff terracotta architrave and a terracotta entablature above containing the words ‘Free Library’ in Arts and Crafts script. Above the entrance porch is an ‘arrow slit’ embrasure within a moulded Jacobean-Revival frontage with moulded brickwork ornamentation. This bay terminates in a tall stepped gable with a central round-headed central recess containing a casement window with a terracotta cornice. The projecting right hand bay contains three narrow four-over-four windows at ground level, each in a round-headed recess with a keystone. The upper four-panes of the windows are shorter in height and form opening casements. Brick pilasters between each window rise to the first floor where they frame two small casement windows, again in round-headed recesses, with a brickwork bridge across the central void. These windows have three rows of small panes, four at the top, two in the centre and four at the bottom, separated by a central mullion. Each first-floor window terminates in a small stepped gable, in the same style as the larger bay to the left. The central projecting bay of this elevation is a relatively plain square bay, containing a mullioned and transomed window at ground floor level with late-C20 timber panels above beneath the steep pitch of the roof. Within this central bay, the steeply-pitched, orange, plain-tiled roof drops to a low eaves height level with the moulded brickwork cornice and is a notable feature of the Station Road elevation.

The northern elevation has a twin gable at the western end with a shallow concave swept buttresses to the corner. This twin gable is lit with four windows, two at ground floor and two at first floor, which sit within round-arched recesses extending from ground-floor sill level to above the first-floor windows. The ground-floor windows are four-over-four casements, and at first floor simple four-pane casements. Beyond this gable to the east (rear) of the building, the single-storey range of the former lending room is lit with close-set windows in round-arched recesses. At the eastern end this elevation terminates in another stepped gable break. Decorative details are restrained and sharply detailed in brick; string courses, narrow keystones and vertical fillets with ashlar scrolled consoles as kneelers to the gables. The eastern bay has a glazed five-by-three mullioned and transomed window in a round-arched recess, the central lower panes of which have been replaced by an entrance door. The western six bays of this elevation contain six evenly spaced casement windows, two over six, with buttresses every two bays.

The two blocks of the original library building can be clearly seen from the east elevation –two gable ends with buttresses, the left hand (reading room) block to the south taller than the right hand (lending room) block to the north. Though this elevation is simpler, the brickwork ornament and mouldings continue here, on the eaves and angles of this façade. The former reading room has two windows, at the top a panel of eight small panes with a central mullion and at the bottom a panel of four small panes above two large panes, with narrow glazing bars. These two windows are set within recessed arched brick panels. The former lending room also has two windows, separated by a gabled buttress. These two windows have four-over-four casements, with the upper four panes shorter in height than the lower panes and forming opening casements.


EXTERIOR: the 1903 former council offices form the southern half of the Station Road elevation. In imitation of the former library, this elevation is also in three bays with a larger gabled bay to the north and a smaller gabled bay to the south, with a lower central section. The ornamental brickwork cornice from the former library is faithfully copied on this building. The gables are in a curved and stepped Baroque style, and all of the windows have moulded brickwork architraves and dropped keystones. At ground floor level the northern bay has a single wide three-over-three mullioned and transomed window on the left and a projecting entrance door on the right, with limestone architrave and decorative keystone and a carved coat of arms above. At first floor are three evenly spaced, fixed, round-headed windows with round-headed lights beneath a semi-circular glazing. Above at second floor level, in the centre of the baroque stepped gable, is a single round-headed window, with the arch filled with a circular motif formed by circular mullions. The central linking bay is of two storeys, each with one round-headed window. The top window retains the round-headed lights beneath semi-circular glazing of the primary bays. At ground-floor level, both parts of the window have single panes. The southern projecting bay has a single three-over-three mullioned and transomed window at ground floor with plain glazing and a pair at first-floor level, retaining the round-headed lights beneath semi-circular glazing. This pair is set within a large round-headed arch ornamented with ornate relief in gauged brickwork. Above this pair of windows in the centre of the right-hand gable is a limestone date stone with the year 1903. A flat-roofed, single-storey extension in red brick extends along the southern elevation, appearing to date from the later twentieth century. This has a pair of round-arched windows beneath brick headers and stone keystones. A single round-arched doorway in the southern elevation is reached by a set of concrete steps. Two late C20, square-headed windows are set within this southern elevation.

The rear (east) elevation of the former council offices has a simple two-bay rear elevation, of three storeys. At ground floor large segmental arch windows flank central projecting ground floor bay, much altered by C20 additions and windows. At first floor there are four windows with segmental arches in the left bay (the right-hand pair containing stained glass), and three (one converted to a fire escape) round headed windows in the right bay. At second floor both bays consist of a plain pointed gable with a central round window.

Listing NGR: SP4264693764


The historic core of Hinckley centres around The Borough and its connecting streets, with the Church of St Mary to the south-east. A settlement existed in Hinckley during Roman times, but the origins of today's town are a Saxon village called Hinca's Leah. In the C12 a priory and a Norman motte-and-bailey castle were built in the village, and by the C13 it had grown into a small market town, centred around The Borough, with Stockwell Head and Castle Street stretching to the east and Coventry Street or Duck Paddle Street (now Regent Street) to the south-west. In 1640 the first stocking frame was brought to Hinckley, marking the beginning of the stocking weaving industry which was to dominate the town for over two hundred years. Hinckley prospered on the success of this industry, and many of the surviving buildings of the historic core date to the rebuilding and modernising of the town centre carried out in the C17 and C18. The arrival of the South Leicestershire Railway in 1862 allowed the stocking industry to expand with steam-powered frames and large factories, and the corresponding prosperity allowed the town to expand significantly beyond its historic core. The wider town is now characterised by the C19 houses and civic architecture erected during this time of expansion.

Station Road was a once narrow lane until the construction of the railway station was constructed to the south, with the lane being replaced by a straight road connecting the station to the town. This new road developed gradually, first at the northern end, and this was the site chosen for the new town library. Discussions began in 1873 and the Leicester architect Isaac Barradale was chosen. The new building was constructed by John and William Harrold of Hinckley and was opened in 1888. Barradale designed the building in an Arts-and-Crafts, style, with distinctive stepped gables and a steeply pitched red tiled roof. This decorative style was continued in the interior. The completed library consisted of a tall block facing Station Road, with two single storey blocks extending east behind it. The local history pages contain the following description: ‘The building was planned in two sections - the reading room (south) and the lending room (north). The entrance was through an internal porch into the lending section near to the St Mary's Road corner, and books were only borrowed through a system of catalogue-choice. This was altered in the 1930s when the two departments were changed round, and open access was allowed to all shelves. ... a balcony was provided over the reading department for the purpose of chess and draughts, although it was never used for this.’

In 1903, Council offices were constructed to the south of the library in a Baroque style to complement the library building. This building was designed by F C Cook, the town surveyor. Electric lighting was installed into the buildings in 1920, and in 1933 the walls of the library porch were reconstructed with terrazzo.

In 1972 the Hinckley Union District Council bought a former hosiery factory on Lancaster Road and began converting it to a new library. The library moved to these premises in June 1975. In 1976, the local authority granted permission for part of the former library to be used by the adjacent St Mary’s Primary School. St Mary’s Road subsequently became a pedestrianised private entranceway. Following local authority consent granted in 2019, the rear parts of the former library now under the management of the school have accessibility ramps on the north and east elevations.

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