The following successive sites have been occupied:
(1) From 1889 to 1893 the town’s first public library was at 76a St. Mary Street: on the west side immediately north of South Front. The building was originally the tap bar and music hall of the Kingsland Tavern. The library occupied two rooms in the upper floor; the lower floor was a stable yard. The library moved to new premises in London Road in 1893 and since then the building has been used for a variety of purposes.
(2) The town's first purpose-built public library was opened in 1893 and stood on the corner of London Road and Cumberland Place. It was built to replace the temporary public library established in St Mary's Street in 1889. It was replaced by the Central Library in the Civic Centre in the 1930s. It was then used as a store by the Ordnance Survey. It was destroyed by bombing in World War Two.
(3) The art block on the northern side of the Civic Centre was the last part of the complex to be completed. It was opened by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in 1939. The new block contained the library in the east wing, the art gallery on the upper floor and the School of Art in the west wing and lower ground floor.

First Central Library, St Mary Street

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Photograph, c.1982

Central Library, London Road

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Photograph, c.1893

Central Library, Civic Centre

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Photograph, c.1940

See also:

Further reading:

‘The Development of Public Libraries in Southampton, 1887-1921’, by Richard Preston in Southampton Local History Forum Journal, no. 15, Summer 2009, p 1-20. (HS/h)


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