All old pictures on this page from The
Geoff Thompson Archive
Birmingham's Victorian Central Library
Birmingham's Victorian Central Library was located in Ratcliff Place
adjacent to the Midland Institute. The building curved around
into the part of Edmund Street that disappeared from the city in the
early 1970's. It had been opened in 1882 after the earlier
library, opened in 1865, burnt down in 1879 when an extension was being
built. The construction of the modern Central Library in Paradise
Circus would result in its demise - it was demolished in October 1974.
When I came across the pictures below in Geoff Thompson's collection of
slides, I was blown away! Here was a complete record of how it
looked inside. What a tragedy it was demolished, especially as we
now know that's it's replacement
will soon face a similar fate
The old library is the building on the
left side of the picture, behind the windmill selling tickets for the
Tulip Festival. The lending library entrance was to the left of
the windmill. The building to the right was Mason Science
College, later part of Birmingham University. The view is from
Chamberlain Square. This
is the view as it was in 2010.
This view shows the main reading room
and is looking towards the Edmund Street end with Ratcliff Place to the
This view provides a clearer view of
the roof and is taken in the same direction as the picture above.
This picture is looking in the
opposite direction with Edmund Street behind the photographer and
Ratcliff Place to the left. Note the archway on the right hand
side at the end of the room.
|This view is now looking through the
archway, mentioned above, into an extra room that was constructed at
right angles to Ratcliff Place.
The final view of this sequence is
from the additional room, mentioned above, looking back towards the
This truly, splendid room was the Shakespeare Memorial Room. It
was dismantled and reconstructed in the School of Music. In 2013
it will be on the move again as it
will be located at the top of the
new Library of Birmingham!
What an amazing picture! The
white square in the centre is the brand new Central Library. The
brown and grey building to
the right is the Victorian Central Library, slowly being surrounded by
the concrete structures so popular at the time. The picture was
taken on 13 June 1973.