Redruth Free Library 1895

Designed by local architect James Hicks, the Redruth Library served the people of Redruth until 2018.


The Redruth Urban District Council had already received £2000 to build a library through the Ferris bequest but had not progressed the matter. When Edwards offered to match the bequest they asked local architect James Hicks to start on a design. Initially they considered that they would use Edwards’ offer of £2000 to construct the library and invest the bequest from Ferris to provide for ongoing maintenance. However, Edwards’ offer was not sufficient to meet all of the building costs and some of the Ferris bequest was used for incidental works.
More than 7000 gathered to witness Edwards lay the foundation stone in September 1894 and on Wednesday, 30 May 1895, after opening of the Camborne Library, he returned to Redruth, to open the Redruth Library, which he dedicated to the name of his younger brother, Richard. It was the fourth ceremony he attended that week, laying the foundation stone to the Liskeard Cottage hospital on Monday, the foundation stone for the Newlyn Art Gallery on Tuesday, and the opening of both the Camborne and Redruth libraries on Wednesday. On Thursday he was to open the Truro library.As was usual in Cornwall a day’s holiday was declared, and in the afternoon sports were organised on the recreation ground, and in the evening the people of Redruth celebrated with a carnival, fireworks, bands and a procession of floats.
Maintaining the library was not a problem. The penny rate raised £94 per annum and the interest on the invested money brought this up to £130 pa. The Librarian was paid just £54 pa but with free house rent, coal and gas.
The library underwent a number of reorganisations over the years and extended into the former Redruth College building, adjacent, which had previously both been home to the YMCA and used as a telephone exchange.


Current use.

Like many libraries in Cornwall the running of the Passmore Edwards library transferred to the Town Council, in this case the Redruth Town Council, under Cornwall Council devolution plans in 2018. Place and the Clinton Road property transferred back to the Cornwall Council and has since stood empty. After the Cornwall Council submitted a pre planning application for potential demolition and housing development a campaign started to save the old building. The Council has since stated that they have no plans to demolish the building and have offered the building for sale with a preferred community use.

Posted in Libraries.

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