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Hornsey Library

A Grade II Listed Building in Crouch End, Haringey

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Latitude: 51.5783 / 51°34'41"N

Longitude: -0.1219 / 0°7'18"W

OS Eastings: 530235

OS Northings: 188274

OS Grid: TQ302882

Mapcode National: GBR FN.9XQ

Mapcode Global: VHGQL.TLXF

Plus Code: 9C3XHVHH+86

Entry Name: Hornsey Library

Listing Date: 23 March 2001

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1246935

English Heritage Legacy ID: 486900

Location: Crouch End, Haringey, London, N8

County: Haringey

Electoral Ward/Division: Crouch End

Built-Up Area: Haringey

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Christ Church Crouch End

Church of England Diocese: London

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800/33/10067 (North side)
23-MAR-01 Hornsey Library


Public library. 1963-5 by F Ley and G F S Jarvis of Hornsey MB, with A J Fowler, former Principal Assistant Architect, under G A Pentecost, Borough Engineer and Surveyor. W V Zinn and Associates, structural engineers. Reinforced concrete with large panel pre-cast concrete cladding and brick facings. White cement and Derby spa aggregate in the panels, which have a raised pattern. Flat roofs, save over exhibition hall which has 'V'-shaped roof incorporating clerestory. Two storeys and basement.

Central entrance hall, with adult lending library to left, of double-height with gallery. To right is a central courtyard, with former periodical and information room, now children's library to front, and former children's library with its own entrance beyond. Offices to rear. Above is the main reference and reading room, and exhibition cum lecture hall served by foyer and coffee bar. A room beyond serves as a seating store. Large basement stack rooms, with corner room for children's `story-hours' reached via its own staircase. Travelling library dock at side of building.

Exterior. Aluminium double-glazed windows and columns clad with polished granite. Double glass doors in aluminium surrounds at entrance under large porch formed by the curved wall of the projecting reference library above. This dominating element is without windows, and faced in brick, with clerestory glazing in panelled side walls. The ground floor has continuous glazing to either side. High vertical windows facing street to main lending library. The central courtyard is filled with curtain-walled glazing in the aluminium frames. By the entrance is a large plaque recording the opening of the library on 7 March 1965 by the Princess Alexandra. To the right of the entrance is a mosaic panel. Adjoining the west wall is a bronze sculpture of an attenuated set in a pool with a curtain of water jets. The sculptor was T E Huxley-Jones, who also devised the curved curtain wall behind, inset with bronzes depicting a plan of the borough and the medieval tower of Hornsey church.

Interior. Floors are of vinyl tiles. Treads to staircases in the entrance hall and adult lending library are pre-cast terrazzo. Doors and frames are of utile, and original shelving survives of blockboard faced with plastic laminates and supported by "Vizusell " fittings. These survive particularly well in the reference library, with red vertical ends, black strip fronts and grey and green back walls. Staggered 'V' shaped lines of fixed desks. Staircases have glass and aluminium balustrades with black handrails, and the main staircase hall retains original pendant globes and black conoid wall lights. Adjoining the head of the main staircase, and overlooking the garden court, is an engraved depicting Hornsey past and present, from the church tower of 1500 to the new library and designed by Frederick J Mitchell ARCA. Courtyard has pool and long, fixed concrete bench. Meeting room foyer has timber coffee bar. Timber ends incorporating concealed doors to meeting and exhibition room, which can be partitioned into two if required. Chief Librarian's office retains pendant light.

The library was designed with wit and vivacity, to impart a sense of energy and modernity to reading and cultural events. It was conceived on a grand scale, designed to impart a sense of spaciousness at even the busiest times. Built to replace a library of 1899 which could not hold100,000 books, it was the last building to be erected by Hornsey MB before it was incorporated into LB Haringey in April 1965. As a civic gesture in the centre of a large residential area it is particularly successful, its artworks commemorating the borough through four hundred years. It was a building that appealed to critics from the library profession. `This is not a library from which much new will be learned by students looking for gimmicks. What they will learn, though, .. Is how good a working library will emerge when there is close co-operation at all stages between a librarian who believes that his job is to get books to readers, and an architect who can appreciate the complexities of that simple sounding demand' (Library Association Record, April 1965, p.120).

Library Association Record, April 1965, pp.117-121
W B Stevenson, `Hornsey Goes Long and Low' in Library World, 1 December 1965, pp.5215-17
Booklet issued to participants in official opening ceremony, 5 March 1965
S G Berriman and K C Harrison, British Public Library Buildings, London, Andre Deutsch, 1966
Hornsey Journal, 23 March 2000

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