Didsbury Library, a grade II listed building, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this May and will be welcoming visitors through the doors to celebrate with a variety of events.
An exhibition, including photographs, the original Edwardian plans, archive material, letters manuscripts and 19th century books relating to Fletcher Moss who was instrumental in getting the library built, will be on show. It will also present the gilt key used to open the library and the acquisition and visitor books from 1915.
The exhibition will run from 3 May to 6 June and will include contributions from residents of Didsbury who have submitted their memories to library staff.
John Henry Price was the architect of Didsbury Library, on Wilmslow Road and he described it as; 'designed in the fifteenth century gothic style with tracery windows and emblems of Science, Knowledge, Literature, Music and Arts and Crafts in stone distributed over the building'.
Internally the electric light was designed to allow the public free access to the shelves, browsing and reading areas. The walls were tiled to dado height, the floor cork carpeted and the oak furniture, fittings and partitions were provided by Armitage and Wolfe of John Dalton Street for £600.
When the library opened on Saturday 15 May 1915 at 4.30pm the great and the good gathered for the occasion. Fletcher Moss, deputy chairman of the libraries committee, opened the door with a gold key, in front of civic dignitaries and the public who were keen to see the permanent free library.
Fletcher Moss was active in local affairs as a councillor and magistrate and had hoped to see a free public library in the community for some time. He had campaigned for some 20 years to see the first free public library in a purpose built building, but to no avail.
However following the 1904 Act of Amalgamation which brought Withington into the city of Manchester and specified the need for two libraries in the area, talks resumed.
Andrew Carnegie, the industrial magnate and millionaire who believed passionately in free libraries, promised £5000 for libraries in Didsbury, Withington and Chorlton if suitable sites could be found. Four houses, including an old loom house, were cleared on Wilmslow Road to make way for the building.
And the library has stood the test of time. Everyone is invited to come along and enjoy the building and its history.
Councillor Mark Hackett executive member for culture and leisure said: "Libraries have played a vital role in Manchester. The buildings are at the heart of the community. It is fascinating to look at the history and see how they have played a part in providing education and solace to the residents of the city. They are still great places for the community to meet, share ideas and learn. Everyone is welcome to celebrate, come along and enjoy this fantastic building and all it has to offer."Events
On Wednesday 11 May from 6.45 until 8.30pm there will be an evening recital with Da Capo from the Royal Northern College of Music. Admission is free but by ticket only from Didsbury Library.
On Friday 13 May from 10am until noon there will be a 90th birthday coffee morning with a birthday cake being cut at 11am. Then from 7pm until 8pm there will be illustrated talk by Mark Watson on the library's architect John Henry Price.
On Saturday 14 May from 10.30am until 11.30am there will be animal shaped balloon making with debra Conroy for children aged 7 upwards.
On Monday 16 May there will be a special birthday story-time for the under fours from 2.30pm until 3.30pm.
Derek Slater entertains with readings from plays from the 1900s on Wednesday 18 May from 2.00 until 3.30pm.Media contact
- Margaret Blackburn, Tel: 0161 234 4014