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King's Heath Library

A Grade II Listed Building in Moseley and Kings Heath, Birmingham

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Latitude: 52.4377 / 52°26'15"N

Longitude: -1.8931 / 1°53'35"W

OS Eastings: 407365

OS Northings: 282199

OS Grid: SP073821

Mapcode National: GBR 61S.X0

Mapcode Global: VH9Z3.4ZKM

Entry Name: King's Heath Library

Listing Date: 10 August 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393913

English Heritage Legacy ID: 508121

Location: Birmingham, B14

County: Birmingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Moseley and Kings Heath

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Kings Heath

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham

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Listing Text

997/0/10532 HIGH STREET
10-AUG-10 King's Heath Library

A district library, part funded by Andrew Carnegie and built in 1905 to the designs of Arthur Gilbey Latham. The building is of red brick with a frontage onto the High Street of white Hollington stone and a slate and lead roof. It is single-storey with a reference room to the rear and reading room to the front.

The east front to the High Street has paired Ionic pilasters to the right hand corner and at either side of the prominent portal at left. The pilasters have projecting blocks to their lower bodies and support an entablature with pulvinated frieze and deep cornice with runs across the front, above which is a parapet with balustrade. The three mullioned and transomed windows at right are of two lights with three lights to the central window. The portal has a round arch with lugs and triple keystone, above which is an open pediment, in which are the words 'PUBLIC / LIBRARY / ANNO 1905' in relief. The parapet rises up behind the pediment. To the left of this is the extension of 1982 in red brick laid in stretcher bond and with bands of soldier-coursed brick to the upper part of the wall and forming a coping. This has three symmetrical bays with a central arched doorway which is slightly recessed and porthole windows to either side. The north flank of the building has a projecting, canted bay window at right which has mullioned and transomed windows lighting the reading room and to left of this are sash windows with cambered heads. The canted rear (west) wall is blank.

The portal on the High Street front gives access to a lobby which is tiled with peacock blue tiles below a high dado line. The pair of iron gates has decorative panels with foliage motifs. To the west side are two pairs of doors with glazed porthole windows to their upper bodies. The barrel-vaulted ceiling is panelled. The entrance corridor along the south side of the interior is similarly tiled to its dado. The reading room has a panelled barrel vault with a central rectangular skylight and to either side of the eastern window bay, which also has a small-scale barrel vault, are Tuscan columns with pronounced entasis. Elsewhere, throughout the interior, columns and ceilings are panelled and arched doorways are lugged. The addition to the building of 1974 is of lesser interest than the portion dating from 1905.

The library was built with a portion of the grant of £12,500 given by Dr Andrew Carnegie, to be used by King's Norton and Northfield UDC for the erection of free libraries and reading rooms. King's Heath was one of eight areas to receive a portion of the grant to the district and the library cost £3,368. Latham won the commission in open competition. The foundation stone was laid in August 1905 and the building appears to have been finished by the following year as it is described in the Birmingham Daily Mail (see SOURCES) as 'classic Renaissance style, as massive and bold in detail as the size of the building will allow.' The contractor was E Crowder and the decorative gates were made by Thomas Brawn of Birmingham. The library was acquired by the Birmingham City Council in 1911. In March 1974 the council bought the site of the Hope Chapel, immediately to the south, and built an extension housing a children's library to designs by Birmingham City Architects' Department (Philip Howl, project architect).

Maureen Saffery, King's Heath Library, Birmingham Building History Project (2000).
Birmingham Daily Mail, 29 May 1906.

The Library, High Street, King's Heath, Birmingham is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural: The Building has an accomplished Baroque facade and a series of internal spaces which are well handled.
* Intactness: Allowing for evolving library practice, the building retains the essentials of its original layout and many of the details.
* Setting: Within its High Street setting the library gives a powerful impression of classical learning on a small scale.

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

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