Passmore Edwards offered to provide a library in St George the Martyr, Southwark if the parishioners would tax themselves to maintain it.
In July 1895, a letter appeared in the Daily Chronicle calling attention to the special need for a public library in the Parish of St George the Martyr, Southwark, but that on account of the general poverty of the parishioners, it was impossible to provide a suitable building and maintain a library by means solely of the penny rate. A In August Passmore Edwards responded, again through a letter published in the Cronicle offering£5000, if the Parish adopted the Acts.
The Parish sent a deputation to Passmore Edwards in September and arranged the necessary poll, which taken on 24 March 1896 gave a majority of 1814 in favour of adopting the Library Acts, and a Library Committee was formed.
A site in Borough Road was found and secured. During the negotiations it was found that Queen Victoria would be passing along Borough Road during her Jubilee procession. The Committe advanced the closure of negoitaions and were thus able to rent out the site, for £2000, for a temporary stand for viewing the event.
Architects C J Phipps and A Bloomfield Jackson were apppointed and the foundation stone was laid by Passmore Edwards on 2 December 1897.
Mr Thomas Aldred, former Chief Librarian at Barrow in Furness had previously been appointed as Librarian and whilst building commenced the “Books Committee” worked hard at selecting 4,000 books, mainly second-hand.
The completed building was opened just over 12 months later, on 8 February 1899, by Rt Hon James Bryce, MP, in the presence of Passmore Edwards.