A new Minet rises from the ashes

05 Feb 2011 6:00 PM | Friends of Minet Library (Administrator)

For a long time after the war had ended in 1945, the Minet Library stood as a stark reminder of the war years.

The familiar site of the library building standing on the corner of Knatchbull and Burton road was no more. It was gone, destroyed and flattened during a bombing raid in 1940. However, local people and children still came to the library to borrow books, making their way down to the basement of the building where the goodwill and spirit of the Minet Library was to be found.

As soon as the war had finished, plans were made for a new library building. Architects were appointed and eventually the War Damage Commission approved the plans. During 1956, Lambeth Borough Council agreed to become responsible for the library, which had previously been jointly run with Camberwell.

In 1957 building began and was completed within a few years at a cost of around £50,000, some of it being paid by the War Damage Commission. The Re-opening Ceremony was held on Saturday 18th April 1959, with the Mayor of Lambeth formally declaring the new Minet Library opened at 2.40pm. The new library, with its spacious interiors, contemporary designed furniture, under floor heating and large light catching windows was excitedly and well received by local people.

The Council’s decision to invest in new books and facilities showed its confidence in the future. Readers could now choose from over 30,000 books, with the children’s library stocked with some 6,000 books for those aged from five to fifteen years.

Many years have passed since the re-opening of the Minet in 1959. The ebb and flow of cuts and economies have had their effect, but the library is still here - a vibrant and much valued part of our local community. As the reader may well know the library has a long and chequered history going back well over a hundred years. If we could conjure up Mr. Minet from the past, I wonder what he would think of his library today?

Graham Gower - Lambeth Archivist
Originally published in the Minet Library and MCA Newsletter May 2003

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