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Carnegie Library

A Grade II Listed Building in Runcorn, Halton

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Latitude: 53.342 / 53°20'31"N

Longitude: -2.7374 / 2°44'14"W

OS Eastings: 351003

OS Northings: 383042

OS Grid: SJ510830

Mapcode National: GBR 9YBS.5P

Mapcode Global: WH87Q.X8N9

Entry Name: Carnegie Library

Listing Date: 13 June 2007

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392040

English Heritage Legacy ID: 502656

Location: Halton, WA7

County: Halton

Electoral Ward/Division: Mersey

Built-Up Area: Runcorn

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Runcorn All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chester

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Listing Text

13-JUN-07 Carnegie Library

Library, 1906, Eclectic style, red sandstone main elevations, red brick rear elevation, windows incorporating Mackintosh-style stained glass designs, reverse L-shaped plan, 2-storey main front range to S facing Egerton Street, single storey rear range at right angle to road.

EXTERIOR: Main 4-bay front elevation. Bay 1 projects forward and to side in form of a tower. Ground floor contains main entrance with wide recessed doorway (replaced door), multiple arched head, dripmould above. Series of 5 lights incorporating decorative stained glass and the words 'FREE LIBRARY AND READING ROOM' follows line of the arches. Ground floor of bays 2-4 and window to W wall of entrance tower with 4-light mullion and transom windows, replaced plain glazing (originally leaded lights incorporating stained glass in style of first floor windows) to lower lights, angled buttress to far right. Two projecting stringcourses enclose band of decorative carved stonework depicting floral and foliage designs, tudor flower style moulding beneath, decorative band to bay 1 incorporates carved lettering reading 'THE GIFT OF ANDREW CARNEGIE 1906'. First floor of bay 1 with 6-light mullion and transom window with leaded lights and stained glass designs, tri-cusped heads to upper lights. 8-light window in same style sits to right above ground floor bays. Parapet with reverse ogee and carved stonework detailing to roofline. Low 2-storey quarter-hexagonal stair turret projects from left gable end behind main entrance tower, square casement window incorporating stained glass of same design as front elevation, band of decorative carved stonework in same style as front elevation. Lower rear section of E gable end in brick (money saving design - cannot be seen from front because of adjoining house). Sandstone chimney stack to E gable wall, small later brick chimney stack to roof of entrance tower.

INTERIOR: Decorative tiled mosaic floor to entrance lobby depicting stemmed blue flowers. Possibly larger area of mosaic surviving under later carpeting in front range (depicted on 1906 photograph). Original revolving entrance door now lost.
Original green and dark brown glazed tiled dados to all original internal walls, deep moulded cornicing. Rear range: Early-mid C20 partition wall dividing room. W wall formerly external wall of Waterloo House, deep recessed doorway with surround incorporating pilasters and decorative head keystone (possibly depicts Carnegie or Charles Hazlehurst, original owner of Waterloo House). Arched 4-light casement windows to each side and square-headed 4-light casement window to far right, all with upper lights incorporating stained glass (in same style as external windows). Two windows to right light S room. Rear (N) room with tiled dados, cornicing, tall windows to N wall with stained glass upper lights, replaced glazing to lower lights, door and window to W wall. S room now only accessed from front (S) range due to partition, truncated S wall, tiled dados, cornicing under late C20 suspended ceiling. Front range: Ornate cast-iron spiral staircase to NW corner stair turret behind main entrance. Left section of rear (N) wall knocked through (early-mid C20) to incorporate rooms in Waterloo House and access into rear annexe. Mid-late C20 dog-leg stair to NE corner, leads to first floor former reference library. 4 decorative stained glass lights separated by pilasters to left of stair (originally lit front and rear ranges). Former reference library room: Tiled dados, original timber board floor underneath later carpeting, windows to rear (N) wall with plain glazing to lower lights (deliberate money saving design). Chimney breast to E gable wall, fireplace lost. Office to SW corner with original half-panelled, half-glazed door and lower walls, walls built up to ceiling mid-late C20. Early C20 door (panels boarded over) to left of rear N wall provides access into first floor of Waterloo House.

HISTORY: The library at Egerton Street was constructed c.1906 with money donated by the Scottish-American businessman and public benefactor, Andrew Carnegie. Runcorn's first free library was opened in 1882. It is believed that it was originally located in Waterloo House (adjoining the present library building), although it is not identified as a library on historic OS maps until 1899. Following the donation from Carnegie in 1906 the present purpose-built library was built on a plot adjacent to Waterloo House. The rear range of the library was built on to Waterloo House and the original E external wall of the house subsequently became an internal wall. At this time Waterloo House was used as a town hall and direct access was provided from the hall into the library via a doorway in this wall. Later in the early-mid C20 some of the ground floor rooms of Waterloo House's rear range were opened up into one large room and subsumed into the library. A single storey building to the rear of the site, which originally formed part of the Technical Institute on Waterloo Road was also incorporated into the library at approximately the same date and is accessed through the Waterloo House room.

The first Carnegie library was established in 1879 when Andrew Carnegie provided funds for a library in his home town of Dunfermline, Scotland. Following this, further libraries were established with his grants (for buildings and equipment, not books) across the English speaking world (particularly the US). Local authorities were required to provide a site for the library and levy a rate of 1d. to cover its maintenance. The first grant for a library in England was at Keighley, West Yorkshire in 1899. By the time of his death in 1919 Carnegie had provided grants to 380 libraries in the UK.

Kelly T. 1977. History of Public Libraries in Great Britain 1845-1975. London: The Library Association.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: A library dating to 1906 and constructed with a grant from the Scottish-American businessman and public benefactor Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie Library displays an unusual and highly successful eclectic design unlike many other libraries of this period, which utilised Flemish style architecture. The building has a clearly readable original floor plan and a high level of original survival. Using high quality materials and displaying strong decorative and architectural features both internally and externally, such as windows incorporating Mackintosh style stained glass designs, carved stonework, ornate cast-iron spiral staircase, mosaic floors and glazed tile dados Carnegie Library possesses special architectural and historic interest within a national context.

The large room forming part of Waterloo House and the rear annexe (which now both form part of the library) are not part of the original library building and are not of special interest. Consequently these areas are excluded from the listing.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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