History in Structure

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

The Public Library

A Grade II Listed Building in Truro, Cornwall

More Photos »
Approximate Location Map
Large Map »


Latitude: 50.2646 / 50°15'52"N

Longitude: -5.0527 / 5°3'9"W

OS Eastings: 182534

OS Northings: 44975

OS Grid: SW825449

Mapcode National: GBR ZF.XFYX

Mapcode Global: FRA 089B.HC2

Plus Code: 9C2P7W7W+VW

Entry Name: The Public Library

Listing Date: 30 October 1989

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1205990

English Heritage Legacy ID: 377551

Location: Truro, Cornwall, TR1

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Truro

Built-Up Area: Truro

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Mary Truro

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Find accommodation in


This List Entry was subjected to a Minor Amendment on 15/12/2016


880-1/7/238 (East side)
30/10/89 The Public Library


Also known as: The City Library PYDAR STREET.
Public library, formerly free library, opened 1896 by Passmore
Edwards and extended with Central Technical Schools for
Cornwall, opened 1899 by the Right Honorable the Earl of
Edgcumbe, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall; both buildings designed
by Silvanus Trevail; all donated by Passmore Edwards and with
foundation stones laid by him.
Local rubble, dressed local stone brought to course (principal
elevations), rock-faced granite plinth and freestone
dressings; dry Delabole slate roofs with coped gables,
V-jointed clay ridge tiles and dressed stone axial stacks over
the cross walls; original cast-iron gutters, rainwater heads
and downpipes.
Large slightly irregular overall rectangular plan: the
original library is a U-shaped plan with 2 cross wings
flanking an entrance hall leading to stair hall overlooking
small rear courtyard; the left-hand cross wing has an axial
passage/entrance hall behind the front room with its doorway
fronting onto Pydar Street. In 1897 the foundation stone was
laid for a technical school built on the right: this building
is a shallow E-shaped plan, formed by the cross wings breaking
forward slightly; there is a central entrance hall leading to
a large stair hall. The style is an inventive mixture of
Renaissance Classical and Domestic Gothic.
Library is 2 storeys plus attics, technical school is 3
storeys. Complete and unaltered exterior with original doors
and windows: the windows are wooden sashes sliding within
stone transomed windows with stone mullions to those openings
with multiple lights; at the rear are transomed timber windows
except for large stone stair windows with double transoms and
coloured glass; the top lights of the library windows also
have coloured glass. Principal south-east front is of
1:1:1-bays to original library on the left, and of
1:1:1:1:1-bays to the taller former technical school, on the
right. Both fronts are symmetrical with central doorways and
the other bays are sub-divided into groups of mullioned
windows. The library has pairs of 2-light windows on the
ground floor, round-arched tripartite windows above and
2-light windows in the gables. Round-arched doorway has
ironwork fanlight and 2-light window over; panelled doors;
mid-floor stone fascia is continued across the later school.
Generally, the technical school is more elaborate and has more
complex Renaissance-style and Gothic-style detail: central
round-arched doorway with spoked fanlight is set between pairs
of rusticated pilasters in the manner of a Gibbs surround;
succeeding floors are more complex: flat-headed groups of
three 2-light windows to the ground floor; round-arched blind
arches above the first-floor windows and basket-arched heads
over the second-floor windows; the projecting central and
outer bays are surmounted by pedimented gables; the recessed
bays have central 2-light gabled windows flanked by 3-light
blind panels with traceried heads. The most striking feature
is a frieze containing carved craftsmen, over the first-floor
windows of the central bay.
The Pydar Street (SW) front of the library has similar detail
to the other front but is irregular with 1:1:1-bays: ground
floor of the entrance bay is slightly broken forward in the
angle between the projecting left-hand bay and the remainder
of this front; Stokes Memorial is in the frieze over the
doorway; gable-ended bay, on the left, has a 3-light bay
window on the ground floor and a smaller canted bay window
above. Right-hand (NE) elevation is symmetrical with 3 pairs
of lights to the middle of each floor; the upper floor has
stepped pairs of lights rising into a steep pedimented gable.
INTERIOR: virtually complete and unaltered with its original
doorways, doors and ceiling cornices. The original library has
an open-well stair with turned balusters; the technical school
has an open-well stair with an iron balustrade.
This is one of 6 libraries in Cornwall donated by Passmore
Edwards; the technical school is the only example. Both parts
of this building represent some of the best work by the noted
Cornish architect, Silvanus Trevail.

Listing NGR: SW8253444975

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

British Listed Buildings is a Good Stuff website.