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The Rushden Echo, 1st December 1905, transcribed by Gill Hollis.

Library Opened - 1905

The Library in 1905
Details of the stonework


Architect – Mr. W.B. MADIN. Town Surveyor Chairman of the Library Committee – Mr. JOHN CLARIDGE, J.P. C.C.
Builder – Mr. W. Packwood Secretary of the Library Committee – Mr. GEO. S. MASON

  A great concourse of people witnessed the formal opening of the Free Public Library at Rushden on Saturday last, the Marquis of Northampton, who performed the opening ceremony, receiving a very cordial welcome from the people of Rushden.  The library has been built at the expense of Mr. Andrew Carnegie at a cost of about £2,500 from plans prepared by Mr. W. B. Madin, the town surveyor, and it is a handsome and eminently suitable edifice.


  The new building comprises news room, magazine room, ladies’ reading room, lending library, reference library, librarian’s room, book store, and lavatories, and presents a neat and attractive appearance.

  The front elevation to Newton-road is designed in the Renaissance style of architecture.  It is built of best dark Ibstock pressed bricks with Ketton stone dressings.  Standing back from the road it is separated from the footpath by a low brick wall surmounted with a neat ramped wrought iron fence.

  At the front entrance, which is centrally situated, two large Doric columns give an appearance of strength, whilst the four large windows on each side, divided by three-quarter Doric columns, suggest ample light.  The columns are surmounted by a stone architrave, frieze, and cornice, on the top of which comes a stone balustrade.  In the centre, over the entrance, is a stone gable with an ornamental finial, the panel in the gable being carved and bearing the words


  The front portion of the building is covered with a tiled roof and the back is a flat roof covered with vulcanite and gravel.

  Entering the vestibule though the massive oak double doors, with a semi-circular ornamental fanlight, a pleasing effect is produced by the light and dark green painted walls, and enriched cornice and Roman mosaic floor. Glazed swing doors give entrance to the lobby leading to the central hall, from which all the rooms open. A series of moulded arches, tastefully decorated, give a pleasing appearance, which is increased by the Lincrusta Walton dado and dentilled cornice.  The hall is rectangular in shape and the flooring is of Terrazzo with a central ornamental design in Roman mosaic.  It is amply lighted by a lantern light.

  Immediately facing the entrance is the lending library, which is designed upon the


the librarian’s counter and screen dividing it from the hall.  From this counter the whole of the rooms can be easily supervised, a strong point in a building of this description.  Over the counter is a panelled and moulded elliptical arch of 16 feet span.

  In the library, oak book stacks are provided, capable of holding some 6,500 volumes. The room is well lighted and the walls are distempered light green. To the left of this room, and divided from it by a glazed screen with access door, is the reference library, a spacious and well lighted room. To the right and left of the entrance hall and in the front part of the building are the magazine and news rooms, each entered from the central hall by glazed double swing doors. Ample light is given in each by six large windows, the upper parts of the walls are distempered, and to the lower portion a Lincrusta Walton dado is provided.

  Immediately adjoining the magazine room and divided by a glazed screen with access door is the librarian’s office. To the left of the central hall, and between the news room and reference library is a separate


with lavatory, etc., provided.

  All the rooms are 13 feet high and have pitch pine wood block floors.   From the central hall a corridor to the right leads to a spacious store room and lavatories, and to a side entrance.

  The heating chamber is in the basement under the store room and has a fire-proof ceiling.  The building is heated by hot water on the low pressure system, the pipes being above ground where practicable, with radiators varying in size and number according to the rooms.

  The ventilation has been carefully arranged.  In addition to the ventilating radiators, Sheringham valves are provided to each room and all the windows have deep bottom beads to enable fresh air to enter at the meeting rails.  Ceiling out-lets under control are provided and connected to the ventilating turret.


has been Mr. Wm. Packwood, the sub-contractors being :- Messrs. Whittington and Tomlin for the carpenter and joiner’s work;  Mr. T. Higgins of Wellingborough, the stone mason’s work;  Mr. Walker for plastering; and Messrs. A. T. Nichols and Co., plumber, glazier and painter’s work.  The carving was executed by Mr. M. White, of Peterborough, and the wrought iron fence by Mr. Reynolds, of Harrowden.  The gas fittings were supplied by the Rushden and Higham Ferrers Gas Co.  The seating was by Messrs. Dargue, Griffiths, and Co. of Liverpool;  the wood block flooring, Roman mosaic and Terrazza paving was by Mr. Jos. Ebner, of London.  In connection with the furnishing (which is entirely of oak,) Messrs. Whittington and Tomlin made the book stacks, newspaper stands, etc., Mr. Checksfield made the whole of the tables; and the chairs were from Messrs. Cox and Son, Ltd., of High Wycombe.  The architect has been Mr. W. B. Madin, the Town Surveyor.


It almost seemed as if every man, woman, and child in Rushden turned out to witness the opening ceremony, which had fixed for three o’clock. Fortunately the weather was fine, the rain holding off until the evening. The Marquis of Northampton, who had consented to open the building, arrived about 3 p.m., and was met at the North End Schools by the committee, subscribers, members of the Urban Council, and other public bodies, the Fire Brigade, the Police, and the Ambulance Corps, the last-named, under the command of Chief-Supt. Hilton, acting as a guard of honour. The procession was marshalled by Captain Fred Knight, J.P., and Engineer J.T. Colson of the Rushden Fire Brigade.

  The first carriage contained the Marquis of Northampton, Mr. J. S. Clipson (chairman of the Council), Mr. John Claridge, J.P., C.C. (Chairman of the Library Committee), and Mr. George S. Mason (clerk to the Council and secretary to the committee).  In other conveyances came Ald. Campion (Northampton Free Library), Revs. M. E. Parkin, W. F. Harris, and R. Shorten, Ald. T. Patenall (Mayor of Higham Ferrers), Messrs. G. Denton, C.C., Swindall (vice-chairman of the Council), Ballard, Bates, Bazeley, Mantle, Hornsby, and Skinner (members of the Urban Council), Ashdowne (treasurer), John Sargent (rate collector), W. H. Brown (headmaster National School), L. Perkins (Newton-road School), S. Saddler (Alfred-street School), W. B. Sanders, B. Vorley, F. Corby, and W. Chettle (school managers), W. Clark, G. Bayes, G. Selwood, E. Harris, W. J. Cure, T. C. Clarke, Leonard Baxter, W. Hensman, W. Lack, B. Ladds, T. Watons, W. Knight, C. W. Horrell, C. Claridge, J. Jaques, A. Crouch, and other members of the Library Committee.  The procession went along High-street to the library, where Mr. John Claridge took the chair.



  Mr. J. Claridge presided, supported by Lord Northampton, Mr. J. S. Clipson, Ald. Campion (Northampton), Mr. T. J. George, F.G.S. (Northampton), Mr. Madin (the architect), Mr. G. Denton, C.C., and Mr. W. Bazeley.

  The Chairman said that before performing a very pleasing duty he wished to say a few words as to the proceedings which had resulted in the possession of those handsome buildings. A little more than three years ago Mr. Carnegie was approached with regard to assisting in the erection of a library for Rushden, and Mr. Carnegie replied that he would be pleased to give £2,000 for the erection of a library, providing the town found a site and adopted the Free Libraries Act. That proposal was submitted to the Council, and agreed to, and was ratified at a town’s meeting. Some difficulty had arisen with regard to a site, and one or two other matters, and on the spot selected by the committee, they found they could not get all the room and accommodation they required. As a result Mr. Carnegie was again approached, and generously agreed to increase his offer to £2,500. (Applause)  The committee had pledged themselves to the Green site, and although that was undoubtedly a good one it was afterwards felt that


would be a better one.  Though they were morally bound to the Green Site the owners magnanimously released them, and he rejoiced in being able to say that they had treated them so well.  Naturally, the matter had been delayed, and although it was generally considered that delays were dangerous, in the present instance he believed it had been to their advantage.  (Hear, hear)  He hoped the people of Rushden would show their thanks to Mr. Carnegie by using the new building, for that would be the greatest compliment they could pay him.  On behalf of the subscribers and Mr. Carnegie, he asked Mr. Clipson, the Chairman of the Urban Council, to accept the title deeds conveying the property to the town.  (Applause)

  Mr. Clipson, Chairman of the Rushden Urban Council, said that it gave him great pleasure to receive the title deeds on behalf of the town.  The library would supply


for they believed in everyone having the opportunity of seeing the daily papers and the books to be found there.  He hoped they would endeavour to maintain a high moral tone in the library, and he could assure them, on behalf of the Council, that everything would be done to maintain the library in as high and efficient a state as possible with the means at their disposal.  (Cheers)  He thanked Mr. Claridge for the interest he had taken in the matter, and the committee for the noble way they had supported their chairman in the work. (Cheers)  But for the efforts of Mr. Claridge he doubted whether he would have had the pleasure of holding the title deeds of the building that day.  (Hear, hear)  The building was a monument to Mr. Carnegie, and their best thanks could be shown by using it for the best interests of the town.  It was also a monument to the architectural skill of their surveyor, Mr. Madin. (Cheers)

  The Chairman said he felt deeply interested in the


and looked to that building to promote the educational and intellectual forces of the town.  The teachers in the elementary schools had taken a great interest in the work, and he hoped that they would persuade their scholars to use the building.  The library should prove a very good training ground for those who joined the evening classes. Such a library was well worthy of a penny rate, because it would be for the benefit of the people. He then called upon the Marquis of Northampton to open the building.

  The Marquis of Northampton, who was cordially received, said he was pleased to be amongst them on that auspicious occasion, and he tendered his hearty thanks to those responsible for the free library for inviting him there to declare it open. He wished he could say as much as he felt with regard to Free Libraries. He remembered a good many years ago when he first came to Rushden, it was


There lived the greatest friend of his life – the eldest son at Rushden Hall.  (Applause.) He regretted that he, whose promise was so great, was not still amongst them, for if he had been given years of life he would have been an honour to Rushden.  (Hear, hear.) He had come back once or twice, and found that the place he once knew as a village had grown into a great town, and they were getting familiar with the responsibilities and necessities of town life. They had got their water, gas, and various other kinds of necessities for their daily life, and they had the drawback which generally accompanied the acquisitions, viz., rates.  (Laughter) But last, though by no means least, those who had been responsible for the prosperity, the


had paid attention to what was of far greater value than physical questions, viz., the mind.  (Hear, hear) In England they always paid the least attention to the mind of the people, but as time went on he hoped they would have a better system of education, whereby the mind of the people would be improved. He imagined that Mr. Carnegie had in view that which he had already tasted, the great pleasure of reading, and had realised the great value, the inestimable value which was to be procured from reading and thinking.  (Hear, hear) Mr. Carnegie had come forward in a great and magnanimous way to help the rising population with free libraries.  He had sown free libraries north, south, east, and west, and the least they could do during his lifetime was to see that a rich harvest came from his sowing. (Cheers)  For whom would be the Free Library?  It would, he though, be open to


Firstly, the largest number, who wished for a superficial improvement of the mind – he did not hesitate to say the largest number because he was one of them – desirous of superficial self-improvement by reading their newspapers and magazines. Newspapers were necessary for them, the magazines were very interesting, but they were totally valueless unless they led to something else. Secondly, the library was for those who wished for excitement and amusement, and that might be a small class. It was a good thing to get excitement and amusement out of books, such as could be obtained from Dickens and others. They all enjoyed novels so long as they were good, but he wished to raise his voice in protest against many modern novels which they had at the present time (hear, hear) – novels not for amusement, excitement, or improvement of any kind, but works of a degrading character. He was sorry to say, from what he had heard, that some of the worst had been written by lady novelists. Since the time of Jane Austin and George Eliot they had had few good


There were many bad ones, whose work he hoped would not find a way into the Rushden Library.  (Hear, hear.) It was for the third class that he thought Mr. Carnegie had given the money he had – those who wished for self-improvement. It was hard work to improve the mind, harder work than improving the body. Just as it was necessary to train the body for any athletics in which they desired success, so it was important to train the mind if they were to have any success in regard to the other nations of the world.  (Hear, hear.) There was a great competition amongst the nations, and England was lagging behind, consequently they must do their best to improve the mental units of the nation. If they could do this they would be helping to carry out the great destiny for which they had been placed in the world. It was not only necessary and useful to train the mind, but to train it to think. (Hear, hear.) As education improved,


would become more popular, and they would then be able to compete with other nations, and at the same time as knowledge became greater they would learn the lesson that labour was always noble, and that the individual who was the lowest, and the spade of wealth, would be a better citizen of the empire than even the clerk with his pen.  (Applause.)  He declared the Free Library to be open.  (Loud cheers)

  The Marquis was then handed a silver key by the architect, Mr. W. B. Madin, and asked to unlock the door of the Library.

  In accepting the key, his lordship said it would be one of the cherished mementoes which he would have at Castle Ashby of the many favours he had received from his friends in Northamptonshire.

  He then unlocked the door, and entered the library amid more cheering.

  Mr. Denton, in moving a vote of thanks to the Marquis of Northampton for performing the opening ceremony, referred to the interest which he took in all those great movements which tended to the elevation of the people.

  Mr. W. Bazeley seconded the proposition, and emphasised the educational value which the new library would have for the


  The resolution was carried amid renewed cheering, and the Marquis, in acknowledging it, said he hoped that that handsome building would prove of great utility to all the inhabitants of Rushden.  (Cheers.)

  The Chairman then suggested that the following cablegram should be forwarded to Mr. Carnegie in New York:-  “Rushden wishes you many happy returns of birthday.  Library open to-day.”  The message was despatched during the afternoon.

  The opening ceremony concluded, the public were at once admitted to the building, which had been supplied with papers and periodicals.

  Crowds of people inspected the building during the day.


  Mr. Clipson and Mr. Swindall entertained the members of the ambulance division, the fire brigade, and the band to tea in the B.W.T.A. Hall.

  Tea was served by the Nursing Sisters.

  After the tea, Mr. T. Swindall said he wished, on behalf of the Free Library Committee, to thank the members of the Temperance Band, Fire Brigade, and Ambulance Brigade for their attendance that day.


  Great credit is due to the Coffee Tavern Co. for the excellently-served dinner which was held in the Public Hall on Saturday evening to celebrate the opening of the library.  Mr. John Claridge presided, and was supported by Mr. J. S. Clipson, J.P. (chairman of the Rushden Urban Council), Ald. S. S. Campion, J.P. (chairman of the Free Library Committee at Northampton), the Rev. W. F. Harris, and the Rev. H. Parker.  The Rector of Rushden wrote that a sharp attack of neuralgia prevented his attendance.

  The loyal toast having been given from the chair.

  Councillor F. Ballard proposed “The Bishops and Clergy and the Ministers of all denomination.”  Though there were differences among them, he said, all rejoiced in the good work done by the others.  Some of them might hold strongly to their own ideas, but as they grew older they had more respect for the opinions others might hold.  He was proud of the work done by such men as the Bishop of Hereford, and by some of the clergy;  and nothing could be said too good of the work done by many ministers of other denominations.  He hoped the good feeling shown in Rushden would continue.  (Hear, hear)

  Replying, the Rev. H. Parker (curate) said he believed that books and papers, properly used, would do a great good.  It depended upon the people of Rushden whether the library would be properly upheld, with the proper books on its shelves.  (Hear, hear)

  The Rev. W. F. Harris (Baptist) also replied.  It was true, he said, that the churches had their differences, and it would not be respectful to the clergy or to the Free Church ministers to minimise them, but the points of agreement were more numerous and deeper.  The work of the clergy and ministers of all denominations were on the same lines as that of the Free Library, making for the same goal of intellectual, social, and moral welfare of the people.  (Hear, hear)  He hoped the library would prove a counter attraction to the public-house, and would induce a love of knowledge and a reading of books that would induce men to study at home. (Hear, hear)

  “The Defensive Forces of the Empire” was given by Mr. G. Miller, who said that the first line of defence, the navy, had special prominence this year through the centenary of the death of Nelson.  They were equally proud of the army, which vindicated the honour and glory of the Empire, wherever called or sent.  As to the reserve forces, they were especially proud of their Volunteers; and in Rushden they had a splendid corps.  (Hear, hear)

  Captain C. R. Claridge responded.  The prowess of their navy, he said, was known the wide world over, and they realised how much their sailors had done to give them the freedom and liberty enjoyed to-day.  But they could not aim at efficiency without great expenditure, as they had found in local matters, for if they had the improvements they also had the rates. (Laughter)

  An old Volunteer, Mr. G. H. Skinner, also replied.  He said they owed a debt of gratitude to the defensive forces, and they felt safe at home with such a fine army and navy.  The Volunteers were also of great service, and it was the finest thing the young men could take up.

  Mr. Jack Keys sang “The death of Nelson,” Mrs. W. Chettle being the accompanist.

  The toast of “The health of Mr. Carnegie” was submitted by the Chairman, who said they were glad that although Mr. Carnegie had amassed a great fortune he had not handed it down to posterity. He took the idea of providing free libraries, and it was not their place to dictate how his money should be spent. Mr. Carnegie’s hobby was created owing to the great assistance he himself received from a free library when he was a young man. He started from Scotland practically penniless, and he amassed a great fortune by great perseverance and industry.  He felt it was necessary that the youth of the country should be better educated, for a nation, unless well educated, would have to take a backward position in the struggle of the nations of the day.  The people of Rushden would never regret accepting Mr. Carnegie’s offer, and he hoped the young people, instead of roaming the streets, as he was afraid many of them did, would be induced to use the building, which would be a great cause of thankfulness.  (Applause)

  Mr. T. Fuller sang “The lads in red.”

  Alderman Campion, proposing “The Committee and Success to the Rushden Free Library,” said he came there representing the county town and could assure them that Northampton would have the fullest sympathy with Rushden in the enterprise which they had so auspiciously launched that day.  (Applause)  The committee had placed in their midst a building that was at once an ornament and of great utility.  Although it might be easy to provide money, yet it was by no means easy to spend that money wisely and well;  but the present building was well worthy of every fraction of the money which had been spent upon it.  There was a perfect adaptation of design to the character of the building, which had a classic dignity, as well as simplicity and artistic merit.  The architect and builder had been most successful in their selection of the design.  How was the Free Library to be made a success?  First, by the infusion into its management of the spirit which had been so well exemplified in the opening proceedings.  They had had a  definition of that policy from the Chairman and Mr. Clipson, who realised the responsibility which was cast upon the authorities.  The library would be made a success if the inhabitants of Rushden responded to that policy the key-note of which had been struck that day.  Good papers and good books were a blessing to those who knew how to use them, and a library of good books was a university in itself.  If Rushden people co-operated with the committee in the policy which had been laid down, there was no end to the power for good of their Free Library.  (Cheers)

  The Chairman responding, said the committee worked hard together to bring this matter to a successful issue. They all regretted the loss of Mr. Wilkins, who had evinced great interest in the work. The Selection Committee had made as good a selection of books as possible, but they had been handicapped owing to their limited means. They had practically raised sufficient money to pay for the site, and that had been a somewhat difficult matter owing to trade depression and scarcity of money. He hoped the public would help the committee as much as possible by gifts of books. (Hear, hear)

  Dr. Greenfield sang “Nelson’s gone a-sailing.”

  Councillor T. Swindall proposed “The architect and builder.”  The building, he said, was a standing testimony to the artistic taste and constructive abilities of Mr. Madin (the architect) and Mr. Packwood (the builder.)  He had seen the elevations of several free libraries in the country, and this would bear comparison with any of a similar size.  Their confidence in Mr. Madin had been fully justified.  The contractor and sub-contractor had achieved excellent results.

  Mr. Madin was unfortunately absent through illness.

  Mr. Packwood, in responding, said he was no public speaker, but a public builder, and would be pleased to repeat the operation in any other town.  (Laughter)

  “The village blacksmith” was sung by Mr. Fuller.

  In the absence of the Mayor of Higham Ferrers, who had had to leave, Councillor Owen Parker, of Higham, proposed “The town and trade of Rushden.”  He said the progress of Rushden had been watched by the whole district, not with envy, but with admiration and a determination to emulate them according to their capacity.  He trusted that the period of depression would soon be past.  (Hear, hear)

  Very appropriate replies were made by Mr. Clipson and Mr. Wm. Clarke, both of whom spoke of the growth of Rushden.

  Mr. Max Stringer sang “Bonny Mary of Argyle.”

  The Rev. M. E. Parkin gave “The visitors.”

  He said they were proud of Rushden and of the progress it had made.  There had always been keen competition between Rushden and other towns of the county, and he remembered the rime when a Cabinet Council, even if so important a point as dissolution was involved, was not so important as the meeting of Rushden and Kettering on Feast Monday.  (Laughter)

  Rushden also took a prominent part in the musical world.  (Hear, hear)

  Mr. George, librarian at the Northampton Free Library, gave some interesting advice based on many years’ knowledge of the work.

  The toast of “The Chairman” was proposed by Mr. G. S. Mason.

  Mr. Claridge, in reply, gave the health of Mr. G. S. Mason, the secretary of the Library Committee, and this closed a pleasant gathering.

Rushden Echo, Friday, August 15th, 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins.

- Mr. Perkins referred to the use of the Free Library by the Pensions Officer, and said it was rather depressing to see so many people waiting their turn in the lobby, without a room in which to sit down. He proposed that the librarian be requested to place at the disposal of the officer and the people on Tuesday and Friday evenings the small "reference room".

Mr. Tomlin seconded, and it was carried.

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