Library’s 125th anniversary set for a page in history

Hucknall Library
Hucknall Library
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STILL very much in the town’s good books, Hucknall Library (pictured) will celebrate its 125th anniversary next year.

It was built in 1886 at a cost of £2,000 and the official opening was delayed until January 1888, probably through a lack of funding and books.

Now staff are looking forward to marking the special occasion with a series of initiatives.

The first will be a Hucknall Library Heritage Calendar to mark the anniversary. This will feature historical photos of the town, including the Hucknall Carnival Band of 1934, a visit by King George V to the town, the former boating lake on Hucknall Titchfield Park and the Zachariah Green memorial when it stood on the Market Place before being relocated to the park.

The library was given to Hucknall by J.E.Ellis and H.B.Paget, two partners in the Hucknall Colliery Company, who were key benefactors to the town.

The building is in a distinctive Queen Anne style and was designed by A.N.Bromley. When it first opened, just one librarian was on duty, working for limited hours.

In his book, ‘Hucknall — Of Lowly Birth And Iron Fortune’, historian Eric Horriben quoted figures that graphically showed a growing desire to read. In the library’s first four months, the number of books borrowed there soared from 1,113 to 2,000.

To satisfy demand for books, the old Hucknall Co-operative Society donated a number selected by the president, J.Collins, and secretary, J.C.Howitt, while a bazaar raised £50.

A report indicates that in the early days the library was very much a male preserve. The games and smoking room was well patronised but a room set aside for ladies was not!

Books originally carried a unique number and were handed in at a sash window. Members consulted a catalogue and a chart of coloured numbers, which showed whether a book was in or not.

Draughts and dominoes were supplied in the games room and the library also had a reading room with newspapers. A Dispatch report of 1905 states that betting information in the papers was blotted out in an attempt to ‘raise the morals of the town’.

The library’s weather vane depicts Golden Miller, which was the only racehorse ever to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup five times — in the 1930s — and also won the Grand National.

An extension was added to the library in 1972 and a full upgrade was carried out in 2000. A £42,000 makeaover, including the provision of groundbreaking self-service machines, was completed in May last year.