We were lucky enough to take a tour of the library today with our Architect. It is sad to see such a wonderful historic building in such a poor state, obviously we are working hard to ensure its deterioration doesn't continue.
Images: Lister Steps
Local Historian Stephen Poulson shares his research on the history of the Library:
The West Derby branch library was the third of seven branch libraries donated to the City of Liverpool by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and was the most costly at £15570’00. The Architect who designed the building was a young Thomas Shelmerdine (1845-1921) who, at the age of 26 was the youngest person ever to be appointed to the post of City Surveyor of Liverpool. The Library was officially opened on Tuesday 27th June 1905 by Sir William Bower Forwood who was the Chairman of Liverpool Libraries Museum and Art Committee (1890-1909). It was Forwood who persuaded Carnegie to donate the sum of £50’000 to build free libraries in Liverpool.
Andrew Carnegie was, at the time, the world’s richest man. Born in Dumfermline in Scotland in 1835, his truly is a rags to riches story. His family moved to Pennsylvania U.S.A in 1848 and as a teenager he began working in factories. His hard work and wise investment in a sleeping car company during the 1850’s led to Carnegie’s early success.
During the Civil War he invested in oil, worked in transportation for the U.S. War Department and became interested in the iron and steel business. After the war he concentrated on steel, and by 1888 he owned control of the Homestead Steel Works and other manufacturing plants, which he eventually consolidated as the Carnegie Steel Company.
With his long time partner, Henry Clay Flack, Carnegie competed fiercely in business and tried to quash organised labour. In spite of his belief that it was the duty of the wealthy to help society (a belief he outlined in an influential 1889 essay, "The Gospel of Wealth"). During 1901, Carnegie Steel merged with the U.S. Steel Corporation which Carnegie sold to J.P. Morgan for $480 million, making Carnegie the richest man in the world. After his retirement he became a philanthropist and donated more than $350 million to further public education, build libraries and lobby for international peace. He also created the Carnegie Corporation of New York, endowing it with $125 million to support benefactions after his death. Although he spent much of his later life on his estate in Scotland, during World War I he returned to the U.S. where he died in 1919 at Shadowbrook, his estate in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. Andrew Carnegie was presented Honorary Freedom of the City of Liverpool on Thursday 3rd August 1911 at Liverpool Town Hall.
Closure of the Library came in December 2005 after a member of staff had an accident. A full structural survey was conducted which found many structural defects which would have cost many hundreds of thousands of pounds to rectify and it was resolved to keep the library shut on health and safety grounds.
Many thanks to Stephen for sharing his research and this historic image of the library.
We had Kieran working with us this week to complete his work experience and he has spent time researching the history of Tuebrook. Here is Kieran's research report:
The area known as Tuebrook is a suburb of Liverpool and includes the listed 121 acre Victorian park known as Newsham Park to the north of West Derby Road. The park is edged by grand Victorian houses and both the park and the surrounding area have been awarded Conservation Area status.
The park contains two buildings that have been awarded Grade II listing status, the old Seamans Orphanage and Newsham House. Opposite the Seamans Orphanage there is a lake, used today by local fishermen but for a long time it was a boating lake. Newsham House dates to the late 18th Century. The land was bought by the council in 1846 and was the Judges Lodgings for those attending Crown Court until recently. The Friends of Newsham Park can tell you more http://www.projectnewshampark.org/joomla/
There is no doubt that Tuebrook is a typical inner city suburb but today the Liverpool City Council are making an effort to improve the area. There are regular bus services to Liverpool City centre, there is its market with a friendly atmosphere and a wide range of products and 2007 saw the first Tuebrook Arts and Heritage Festival.
Newsham Park will play a big role when the giants return to Liverpool to commemorate the anniversary of the outbreak of World War One as that’s where the grandmother and granddaughter will be sleeping.
On Friday 25th July they will walk from Liverpool City centre via Kensington to Sheil Road and then on to Gardner’s Drive. They are due to arrive in Newsham Park at from around 7.30-8.00pm. See the official website for more details http://www.giantspectacular.com/
Tue Brook House, located at 695 West Derby Road was built in 1615 and originally served as a farmhouse. It is currently owned by a local family. It is thought to have been originally owned by John Mercer, a yeoman farmer and during the Victorian period was the home and workshop of a Mr. Fletcher, a wheelwright. Some parts of the building contain sections of its original "wattle and daub" construction, which can be seen through glass panels. The house is reported to contain a priest hide located in the chimney breast between two of the bedrooms. Currently plans hint that the house will be open to the public soon.
We have appointed our Heritage Development Officer to work with us to develop our Heritage Lottery Fund proposal.
We are very please that Hidden Liverpool have featured the former Andrew Carnegie Library as one of their empty buildings. Hidden Liverpool is an exciting yearlong project that will explore some of the city's empty buildings by inviting residents and visitors to share memories, stories and images of buildings that they worked in, visited and used but can no longer access.
Why not take a look at http://www.hiddenliverpool.org.uk/memories/buildings?
The project has also been featured on Heritage Daily and can be viewed here: http://www.heritagedaily.com/2014/07/ruination-regeneration-and-re-use-the-lister-drive-carnegie-library/104214
Our Heritage Development Officer Kerry wrote a short account for the Day of Archaeology project which can be viewed here: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/lister-steps-carnegie-community-hub/
We have been featured on the Journal for Community Archaeology and Heritage blog. View our blog here: http://journalcah.blogspot.fi/?m=1
Here are links to media coverage of the Lister Steps Carnegie Community Hub project prior to entering the Heritage Lottery Fund development phase:
Eyedear Productions have produced some wonderful films regarding the former library and Lister Steps plight to secure the funding required to regenerate the building (they also produce films about other Tuebrook landmarks and Tuebrook life). Here are links to the films: