The Carnegie Free Library at the gates of Hull’s West Park was one of 660 libraries in Britain and Ireland built with funds supplied by the Scottish industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

The site was supplied free of charge by the corporation and construction began in the winter of 1904, to the designs of the City Architect Joseph Hirst.

Carnegie supported over 2,500 free libraries around the world and in 1903, following consultation with Sir James Reckitt, donated £3,000 towards the establishment of Hull’s fifth branch library.

The Library Opens

The library was opened on Tuesday 18th April 1905 by Sir James Reckitt, chairman of the Libraries Committee, who was presented with a ceremonial gold key from Alderman Jarman. Sadly neither Mr Carnegie nor the Mayor were able to attend due to prior arrangements.
The Parks staff were also congratulated for their work in making the surroundings of the library so attractive.
Following the ceremony the large gathered company took afternoon tea on the balcony, at the invitation of Sir James and Lady Reckitt, and at six o’clock that evening the library was opened to the public.

The library initially held a stock of around 9,000 books, which was increased to 10,000 in 1911, following the re-organisation of the Central Library stock.

The library has suffered only minor alterations over the years, the largest being the addition of a gallery at first floor level in the 1920s, the removal of some floor-standing bookcases, and the loss of its parquet flooring.

The Library Closes

In 2001 the council announced the closure of the library, as the new sports stadium to be built nearby would be equipped with a ‘Learning Centre’ to which the library would transfer. The new learning centre has extended opening hours and improved information technology facilities, but its library retains only a fraction of the Carnegie stock.

The Present and Future

Following months of hard work cleaning, indexing books, fund-raising, painting, gardening, etc., the Carnegie Heritage Centre opened its doors to the public on schedule on the 1st January 2008.

Following the closure of the council bindery on Chanterlands Avenue, two of the former staff set up a bindery business of their own, and we were pleased to rent them space for their business within our centre. The Bindery is open five days a week from 8.30 am until 11.30 am. The Bindery is not open in the afternoons.

Early in 2008 the centre received a request from the East Yorkshire Family History Society to rent space from the Carnegie Heritage Centre and they now store their resources and stock within the building. They also hold their monthly meetings at the centre on the third Tuesday of most months.

Carnegie Heritage Centre Ltd

The Carnegie Heritage Action Team was dissolved in September 2009, following the creation of Carnegie Heritage Centre Ltd, which came into operation on 1 October 2009.