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Low Hill Branch Library

A Grade II Listed Building in Wolverhampton, City of Wolverhampton

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Latitude: 52.6114 / 52°36'41"N

Longitude: -2.1145 / 2°6'52"W

OS Eastings: 392340

OS Northings: 301524

OS Grid: SJ923015

Mapcode National: GBR 1H8.88

Mapcode Global: WHBFS.HM9C

Plus Code: 9C4VJV6P+H5

Entry Name: Low Hill Branch Library

Listing Date: 11 March 2004

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391123

English Heritage Legacy ID: 490555

Location: Bushbury and Low Hill, Wolverhampton, WV10

County: City of Wolverhampton

Electoral Ward/Division: Bushbury South and Low Hill

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Wolverhampton

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Bushbury St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Tagged with: Public library

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895-1/0/10052 SHOWELL CIRCUS
11-MAR-04 Low Hill
Low Hill Branch Library

Branch Library. 1930. H.B.Robinson MIMCE [Borough engineer]. Plumb-coloured, stretcher-bond brick with sandstone dressings, green slate roof and orange clay ridge tiles. Octagonal, of 3 stepped tiers; ground floor, recessed clerestory and timber lantern. There is a rectangular boilerhouse extension to the rear with a square chimney placed diagonally. A stone plinth girds the building and a stone parapet at ground floor level.
Exterior: The entrance front has a central doorway with stone surround. It has attached Tuscan columns to either side with pieces of frieze containing oval projecting panels. Above is a broken segmental pediment also supported by a central bracket and containing the coat of arms for Wolverhampton. Above this frontispiece the parapet is slightly raised and bears the inscription "PUBLIC LIBRARY". The angled flank walls at either side have brick to their lower body and 7-light chamfered mullioned windows above. The west front has a central doorway with decorated rectangular fanlight and deeply chamfered surround and single-light windows at either side. To either side are 2-light windows set in the upper body of the walling. The East front has a central 3-light window and at either side are 2-light windows to the upper body. The N.E. and N.W. angled walls have 7-light windows to their upper bodies. From the centre of the North wall projects the rectangular boilerhouse. The square chimney has stone dressings to its mid body and top. Above this and behind an initial flat roof is the clerestory level which has 3-light chamfered mullioned windows to each face set in brickwork. The pitched roof above this leads to the clerestory level with 3-light windows and a further pitched roof rises to a lead cap which was formerly crowned by a weather vane.
Interior: The panelled wooden double doors with rectangular fanlight lead to a rectangular lobby with an original tiled floor and half-glazed walls with stained-glass insets looking into the children's library [right] and reference library [now office, at left]. Double half-glazed doors open to the main reading room. To each angle at ground floor level are astylar pillars supporting the clerestory with an astylar entablature.
Attached to the columns are original metal mechanisms with brass handles used for opening the upper windows.
Photographs show that the library originally had stained glass inserts to the leaded lights which formed the external fenestration. These were replaced with plain glazing but, at the time of survey, the original form had recently been re-instated with an additional layer of protective glass. Photographs also show that the interior formerly had a central, raised, panopticon librarian's desk with stacks to the rear. This original furniture has been replaced but the wood block flooring survives.
The design featured in the libraries section of the Architectural Association conference at Cambridge in 1930.
The building is set to one side of a large circular green which forms the centre of the Bushbury Estate, built in the '20s and '30s. The importance of this site was referred to by the Chief Librarian of Wolverhampton, commenting on the opening ceremony; "The building is erected on a central site, and roads radiate from this point, the whole scheme having been designed to give a like elevation from whichever angle it is viewed. ... At night it is a beacon light and its illumination across this vast estate is worth seeing."
The library is a logical and inspired answer to the requirement for a branch library at the heart of an estate which was widely admired at the time of its building. The rooms are filled with day light and at night the building becomes a beacon. The use of a simple classical style together with more homely glazing and textured materials gives a feeling of domesticity and serious intent and provides a formal focus to the estate without being alien to it.

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