Cobbett Road Library was opened in May 1939. The land was supplied by local residents, the Rev. F.C. and Miss G. Vaughan-Jenkins. Tennis courts had previously occupied the site. The building is a fine example of 1930s architecture. It was given a distinct nautical feel (e.g. port-hole style windows) to reflect Southampton's maritime heritage. The architect was Stewart Bentley, the Chief Architectural assistant in the Borough Engineer's Department.
An Echoarticle on 11/05/1939 said:
"Although small compared with some of the town's new public buildings, this library is an outstanding example of the best type of modern architecture. It is distinguished by a grace which comes naturally out of its perfect fitness for purpose, and it is probably the only library in this part of the country which has been designed with all its fixtures, fitments, and furniture by the architect as a unity."
The article notes that there is space for seven thousand books and that there are two thousand books in the children's library.
The sculpture, Art Within Reach, is by Kevin Atherton and was modelled on Doris Winteridge, a library user, who was aged 70 at the time. According to the Echo it cost £15,000 (reported in article of 06/07/1990).
There is a detailed article on the library's history at The Friends of Cobbett Road Library website.
In 2016 running of the library was transferred to the community groups SCA and Unexpected Places. Opening hours have been extended.
‘The Development of Public Libraries in Southampton, 1887-1921’, by Richard Preston in Southampton Local History Forum Journal, no. 15, Summer 2009, p3-22. (HS/h)
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