Brentford Library

Brentford Library

Boston Manor Road

Library built in 1903

Grade II statutory listed.

In St Paul’s Conservation Area.

English Heritage Listing

Library. 1903 by T H Nowell Parr, builder Joseph Dorey and Co; for Brentford  District Council; benefactor Andrew Carnegie.

Yellow stock brick in English bond with terracotta dressings; Welsh slate roof with tile ridges. 2 storey central block of 3 bays flanked by single-storey wings. Plinth; sill band; frieze and  dentilled cornice to each floor; rusticated quoins to 1st floor; hipped roofs with decorative, finialled, cupolas; tall corniced stacks.

Windows have architraves; wooden or terracotta mullions and transoms; and small-pane sashes and overlights, some upper lights with round-arched glazing bars. Entrance elevation: central block: projecting central bay has wide segmental-arched entrance with 4-panel door  and overlight flanked by glazed grey Ionic columns on tall plinths supporting  segmental pediment with date and benefactor’s name and district’s coat of arms above; 3-light transomed window above, the central lower light segmental-headed.

Flanking windows on ground floor have foundation stones set below, and on 1st floor have corbelled architraves with friezes and dentilled cornices. Left wing has two 2-light windows; cornice sweeps up at left corner to ball finial. Right wing has canted bay window of 1, 2, 1 windows below parapet; 1-light flanking windows; ridge lantern. Rear: central block has continuous 1st floor windows separated by pilaster buttresses rising from below ground floor cornice; door and 3 windows to left wing; transomed 3-light window and keyed oculus to right wing; tower with roof as cupolas on right. Left return: wing, on right, has canted bay window as before, the parapet containing small 2-light window with segmental pediment; flanking 1-light windows,  and door on left in corniced architrave.

Interior: entrance hall has tessellated floor with coat of arms; teak staircase with coffered soffit, moulded balusters and newels, and finials; on stair landing, marble Boer War memorial framed by Ionic columns supporting cornice and pediment with coat of arms. Main library room has pilasters supporting corniced cross-members; room above (formerly museum and lecture room) has corbelled trusses and boarded ceiling; right wing (formerly newspaper reading room) has braced king-post trusses and bronze portrait of Carnegie; left wing (formerly reference library) has arch-braced, collared, principal rafter roof.

Further Information

Designed by the local surveyor – Nowell Parr and built by local company (Joseph Dorey & Co) in the garden of Clifden House, an 18th century house used as Council offices until demolished in the 1950s and where the original library had been established. Building financed by Andrew Carnegie who provided £5,000 if the Council would provide the land and staff. Carnegie came to Brentford to perform the opening ceremony in 1904. The foundation stone had been laid by the Countess of Jersey in 1903.

There’s a full report of these events in The History and Antiquities of Brentford by Fred Turner (1922).

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