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Neville Malkin's "Grand Tour" of the Potteries

buildings in Stoke
 


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No 89 -  The Public Free Library, Stoke

descriptive mosaic on the building
descriptive mosaic on the building

"The Free Libraries Acts was adopted in 1875
Christopher Dickinson, Mayor
The Foundation Stoke of this Building was laid
the 10th Day of December 1877 by the Right Honorable
Lord Wrottesley Lord Lieutenant of the County.
The Site was given by Colin Minton Campbell
M.P. for North Staffordshire.
The Museum, founded by by Robert Garner, FRCS, FLS
and the Library, were opened for the free use of
the Burgesses, Nov 7th 1879. 
Thomas William Minton. Mayor" 


"The Minton's were another influential family of potters, whose name today is well known and associated with finely decorated porcelain and the distinctive floor tiles to be found in countless Victorian houses and which are still produced today.

The Minton family gifted several substantial buildings to the community: Herbert Minton endowed the Church of the Holy Trinity in 1842, and in 1852 built day schools behind the church; his brother Rev Thomas Webb Minton built St Thomas's Church in Penkhull also in 1842; Herbert Minton donated £500 to the public baths in London Road in 1856 which became the Herbert Minton Memorial Building after his death 2 years later; the library and Shakespeare institute in London Road was built in 1878 on a site donated by Colin Minton Campbell, with costs subscribed by Thomas William Minton."

from: 'Breaking the Mould'

 

 

The Public Free Library, Stoke
The Public Free Library, Stoke
pen drawing by Neville Malkin - June 1976

designed by Charles Lynan, and built by John Gallimore, of Newcastle

 

 

The Public Free Library, Stoke
The Public Free Library, Stoke
In 2009 the Stoke Library moved to a purpose built library in 'Stoke Local Centre' behind the market
The old Library building is now used by the Trade Union UNISON

photo:  June 2011

 

 

 

"This impressive building in London Road, Stoke, is the Public Free Library. It is built from a variety of local materials, including red and blue brick, terracotta, and tiles. The most interesting features are the circular windows on the upper ground floor and the Shakespeare mosaic on the facade.

The first move to form a public library in Stoke was made in 1846 when a Dr. Garner formed a society called the Stoke-upon-Trent Athenaeum. Shortly afterwards the society occupied a wing at the Town Hall and gradually accumulated a fine museum and a library of nearly 3,000 volumes, maintained by members' subscription.

After incorporation of the Borough the ratepayers unanimously adopted the Public Free Libraries Act in March, 1875. The council had then to consider how to put this resolution into effect. The sum of £1,308 was promised in donations, and the Athenaeum Committee offered their library and museum, supplemented by a subscription of £150. The Library Committee had no hesitation in accepting these generous gifts. 

It became necessary to provide a building which could serve both as a museum and a free library. A valuable and central site was offered by Mr. Colin Minton Campbell, M.P.; another donor helped, on condition that a canteen for workpeople was made available in the basement - which, until recently, still possessed the beams with hooks from which sides of bacon were hung.

The designer of the building was Charles Lynan, and the contractor, John Gallimore, of Newcastle. The cost was £2,850. 

The foundation stone was laid on December 10th, 1877, by Lord Wrottesley, Lord Lieutenant of the County, and the building formally opened by Mr. Colin Minton Campbell, on November 7th, 1878, during the Mayoralty of Alderman T. W. Minton, but books were not issued until December 20th, after the compilation of a new catalogue and the classification of the museum. 

In 1882 the library began experimental opening on Sundays but, after four years, it was stopped, because it was being frequented only by "noisy and destructive children."

Neville Malkin 2nd June 1976

 

 

 

mosaic of Shakespeare on the facade
mosaic of Shakespeare on the facade

 

 

 


 

 

"The most interesting features are the circular windows on the upper ground floor and the Shakespeare mosaic on the facade"
"The most interesting features are the circular windows on the upper ground floor and the Shakespeare mosaic on the facade"

 

 

 

"This impressive building in London Road, Stoke, is the Public Free Library. It is built from a variety of local materials, including red and blue brick, terracotta, and tiles"
"This impressive building in London Road, Stoke, is the Public Free Library. 
It is built from a variety of local materials, including red and blue brick, terracotta, and tiles"

 

 

 

 


 

side by side on London Road is the Public Library (opened 1878) and the School of Art (opened in 1860)
side by side on London Road is the Public Library (c. 1878) and the School of Art (c.1853) 
The white building to the right is London House - a block of shops and offices - built on the site of the Minton Pottery Works

 

 

opposite the Library and the School of Art is the statue of Colin Minton Campbell

opposite the Library and the School of Art is the statue of Colin Minton Campbell 

the statue is in the front of Sainsbury's supermarket which was built on the site of Minton's offices & headquarters
the statue was restored by Sainsbury's in 2003 when the store was opened 

 

 

Colin Minton Campbell
Colin Minton Campbell 
The statue was originally situated in nearby Campbell Square
it was unveiled by the Duchess of Sutherland at a public ceremony in January 1887.

 

 

 



next: Stoke School of Art
previous: The Arches, Stoke Churchyard
contents: index of buildings in Stoke


 

 

 

 

 

 

Related Pages


Listed building details for Stoke Public Library


also see.. 

Charles Lynam -architect & historian

Colin Minton Campbell - Mayor of Stoke and Pottery Manufacturer

'Libraries gave us power'  - each of Stoke-on-Trentís six towns is blessed with its own public library, and each one is a major architectural statement.