Stanley Street, Tyldesley
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The architect was Arthur John Hope (from the London practice of Bradshaw, Gass & Hope). A Leigh builder, Mr. A.B. Prescott was responsible for the brickwork; Walkden contractor Mr. Cocker for the other part of the work.
The library was officially opened by the industrialist, Charles Eckersley JP of Fulwell, Tyldesley with a gold key on the 18th December 1909. Andrew Carnegie himself had been invited to open the building but was out of England at the time. A letter from him wishing success and happiness to both the library and the people of Tyldesley was read aloud at the opening ceremony and was greeted with much applause.
Before the library was built, an early Mechanics Institute and Temperance Hall occupied this site from 1842 and flourished until the Tyldesley Technical School was built in 1903. After losing its raison d’être, it was wound up, its assets transferred to the Urban District Council, and then demolished in 1908.
There had been a growing demand for a public library in Tyldesley from about the late 19th Century, but a lack of funds had prevented the dream from becoming a reality. However, in 1906, the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie offered the town £4,000 for the construction of a Carnegie Library.
‘Mr. Carnegie has offered £4,000 towards the erection of a free library in Tyldesley under the usual conditions, viz: that a penny rate be levied, and that a free site be given. The District Council have not yet decided what to do about the matter'.
Quote from Charles Eckersley on the opening of the building from the 'Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser', 28th September 1906.
'It will be a great boon to many to come to the library after work and read the different newspapers and periodicals and obtain books to read - and all this free of cost. This will supply a great want. Reading is certainly one of the most permanent and cheapest pleasures we can have. The Library Committee will have the benefit of Leigh and Atherton libraries as to the kind of books required in this area. The opening of this free library will be valued in years to come as having brought about numerable blessings to the inhabitants of this healthy, prosperous and good old town of Tyldesley'.
Images and text provided by Susan Szkilnyk