History in Structure

Former Guest Memorial Library

A Grade II* Listed Building in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil

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Latitude: 51.7619 / 51°45'42"N

Longitude: -3.3491 / 3°20'56"W

OS Eastings: 306991

OS Northings: 207880

OS Grid: SO069078

Mapcode National: GBR HQ.068S

Mapcode Global: VH6CR.WZV7

Plus Code: 9C3RQM62+P9

Entry Name: Former Guest Memorial Library

Listing Date: 22 August 1975

Last Amended: 12 November 2002

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 11490

Building Class: Recreational

Also known as: Guest Memorial Library and Reading Room
Guest Keen

ID on this website: 300011490

Location: On the NW side of the High Street at the SW side of its junction with Gwernllyn Road.

County: Merthyr Tydfil

Town: Merthyr Tydfil

Community: Dowlais

Community: Dowlais

Built-Up Area: Merthyr Tydfil

Traditional County: Glamorgan

Tagged with: Library Neoclassical architecture Library building Reading room Social club

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Merthyr Tydfil


Former library and reading room built 1855 - 1863 as a memorial to Sir Josiah John Guest (d1852) of the Dowlais Iron Works. In March 1854 a public meeting of Dowlais workmen decided on the memorial and £2,200 was subscribed. The building was probably designed by Sir Charles Barry who died in 1860, but had been the favoured architect of the Guest family. Work was started in 1855 but as costs exceeded the money available, the Dowlais Iron Company took over the completion of the building on condition that it became their property. The original subscriptions were returned to the trustees who used the money to provide annual scholarships for the children taught in the Dowlais schools. The library was opened in 1863 at a total cost of £7,000. At the time of survey the building was in use as a social and sports club.


Former library, classical style cruciform 2-storey building, the main rooms raised on a basement storey. Varied stones, massive rock-faced grey stone basement, coursed squared brown sandstone walling above with Bath stone balustrade, tetrastyle portico, eaves cornices and pediments. Windows to side walls are in grey Forest of Dean stone recessed panels.
Raised portico to front with pedimented wings each side and long main hall range behind.
Front has rock-faced square piers to basement with grey stone frieze over, and within recess, centre door flanked by narrow windows in stuccoed wall. Above are 4 Bath stone Tuscan columns on pedestals with balustrades between, carrying fine plain entablature and pediment. Within portico is painted stucco wall with long French windows between Tuscan pilasters, with sunk panel over each window. Wings each side are windowless, with grey rock-faced basement, coursed sandstone walling above, with thin band at level of pedestal tops, and ashlar entablature and eaves cornice. Ends of wings have similar but smaller pediments, over 3 recessed long first floor panels, the centre one broader. Each long panel has recessed panel over a long window with top lights, 2-light to centre one-light each side. Sill course carried right around. Basement has similar short square windows between piers. Hall range behind has 4 similar long windows with sill course over rock-faced grey stone basement with short square windows. End wall has pediment over C20 lean-to additions.


Interior modernised as social club.

Reasons for Listing

Included as an accomplished neo-classical building by one of the outstanding architects of the C19.

External Links

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