Why Sheffield residents are campaigning to restore a historical and ‘much needed’ library

Campaigners in Sheffield are petitioning for a ‘much needed’ library to be listed and restored to its original purpose, so families in the area can benefit once more.

Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 12:30 pm

Tinsley Carnegie Library has been around since 1905 and was built to serve the working class community of the area.

Although the library was closed in 1984 and services moved to two shop units in the nearby precinct, it is volunteers from Tinsley Forum who have been keeping services running since 2016.

A spokesperson for the petition, said: “The area, now part of the city of Sheffield, has lacked a professionally staffed library service since 2016, despite having the worst reading attainment in the city at Key Stage 2.

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Tinsley Branch Library, Bawtry Road in 1970.

“We, the undersigned, petition Sheffield City Council to list the handsome Tinsley Carnegie library building, and to apply for funding to reactivate it for its originally intended purpose, to provide a much needed free library for the area of Tinsley.”

Mary Grover, chair of Reading Sheffield - a group which explores, celebrates and promotes reading for pleasure - added: “People in Tinsley deserve and need their own public library – somewhere they can get entertainment and information, access to computers, a safe space for children and a meeting place for everyone.

“That’s why the parish council campaigned and raised funds to build the library back in 1905. And that original library is still there, worn but still a fine building that should be listed as an important part of Tinsley’s history and live again as its library.”

Sheffield was the first town in Yorkshire to open a free library.

Opening ceremony of Tinsley Library, Bawtry Road, on June 8, 1905.

The Fitzwilliams, who lived at nearby Wentworth Woodhouse, and an American millionaire, Andrew Carnegie, played a large part in the creation of Tinsley’s own library, though this almost did not happen.

A grant of £1,500 from Carnegie almost had to be returned because of an unhappy resident but after much discussion, the parish council approved the proposal and construction started in 1904.

The library service was almost closed in 1918 as a result of a depletion in staff numbers who were ‘serving with the colours’.

By 1970, the library was still in very good condition and the building’s Victorian roots were still evident, including the porch and the little steeple on the roof.

J. Bebbington, City Librarian and Information Officer, Lady Mayoress, Coun. J.Thorpe, Chairman Libraries etc., Lord Mayor A.V. Wolstenholme, Rev. J. Matthews, Lord Mayors Chaplain, at the opening of the reconstructed Tinsley Branch Library, Bawtry Road, on November 13, 1959.

The Carnegie library was closed in 1984 and the building itself was converted to the Roundabout Centre, which was a centre for the early years.

This too eventually closed, leaving an empty and desolate building.

The building is the second oldest in Tinsley after St Lawrence Church, but today the windows are boarded up, a security fence surrounds the outside and the porch shows water damage, much to the regret of locals.

Campaigners want to see the library restored, not only so it can benefit the community but to preserve the history of it, especially one campaigner who recently found out that his great great grandad played a part in the building of the library.

The building is steeped in history with Victorian roots. Inscription over the doorway reads: The funds for this building were given by Andrew Carnegie esquire and the site by the Earl Fitzwilliam.

To sign the petition, see: here

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The building that once housed Tinsley Carnegie Library is now standing empty.