Kendal – Carnegie Library
Stricklandgate, LA9 4PY. Tel:(01539) 713520
The Carnegie Library replaced the old Public Library, built in 1855 in the market place. It was said that the old library was too small, was at best ‘makeshift’ and was not adapted for its purpose. The new library on Stricklandgate was therefore a welcome addition to Kendal’s rich architectural heritage. Before the old library in the market place, the only place where books could be accessed by the public, was the Working Men’s Institute in the corner of the market square, yet another make shift building for the purpose.
When the old market place library was demolished, the frontage of the building was kept intact, and moved a quarter of a mile onto Sandes Avenue. It now forms the facade of the she shop, with the original library clock intact and working.
The Carnegie Library was opened on the 20th of March 1909 by Kendal Mayor Mr J. Banks, Andrew Carnegie’s representative Dr Morrison was unable to attend due to an injured back. The building was designed to specifically serve the town as a library, and the large windows around the building allow huge amounts of day light into the interior. The new library was bankrolled by Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American millionaire, who amassed a vast personal fortune through investing in sleeping cars, oil and iron and steel.
The building was designed by Kendal architect T.F. Pennington. The library was built as part of a huge project that Andrew Carnegie funded, whereby he set up a trust fund for ‘the improvement of mankind’. This included the building of some 3000 public libraries, 380 of which were in Britain.
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) Scottish-American millionaire, became a telegraph boy in Pittsburgh at 14 and subsequently, by investment in sleeping cars, oil and the US iron and steel industry, amassed a vast fortune. From 1901 he owned a castle in Sutherland and devoted his wealth to peace studies, education, and endowments to universities and libraries.
Incorporated into the floor of the entrance lobby is the Kendal coat of arms.
Another point of interest, is the Curwen window in the Local Studies room upstairs. In 1907, when the library was still being built, the owner of a tailors and clothiers shop nearby, commissioned John Flavell Curwen, architect, historian and local author, to design a new shop front. The glass panels that now reside in the upstairs room of the library, were taken from the shop front when it was eventually demolished.
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Words and photos by Matthew Emmott.
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