Dursley Library

In the mid 19th century Henry Vizard funded the establishment of the National Schools behind the Parish Church and at the same time decreed that part of one of the cottages on the site be used as a library or book depository for the benefit of the residents of Dursley, to be run according to the rules of the National Society and the S.P.C.K. He also provided £70 to buy books.

Early in the 20th century library services in Dursley were provided by George E. Page in Long Street. He advertised himself as "Bookseller, Stationer, Newsagent and Fancy Goods Dealer" but also ran a "Circulating Library - in Connection with Mudie's, London". New books were available every month and could be subscribed for at a cost of 3d per week.

In 1936 a purpose built library, designed by R.S. Phillips, was opened in May Lane. It cost around £1000 and originally held about 2500 books. After a life of almost 70 years, the days of this library came to an end when it was demolished in February 2005 and replaced with a modern design on the same site. This new building, of metal and glass construction, opened for the first time a year later in February 2006 and the face of May Lane took on an altogether different appearance.

The link below shows some fascinating timelapse footage of the new library construction. This video, by Declan Smith, was filmed over the course of a year.
Note: the files are in Windows Media Video format and fairly large so a broadband connection is recommended.

  • Timelapse video of the library construction, large (12.8MB), small (3.4MB)

An additional video, again filmed by Declan Smith, shows various interviews taken at the library opening ceremony.

  • Library opening ceremony video: large (16.2MB), small (6.1MB)
  Picture Gallery (Click on picture for larger view)
    The old library in Long Street
Just visible on the left of the picture is the round white sign of a library which used to be located in Long Street next to W.H. Smith.
(July 11th 1959 - courtesy Cam & Dursley Camera Club)
    G.E. Page's Circulating Library
Seen here in a directory entry from 1901 are the rules for use of G.E. Page's Circulating Library. Books could be borrowed for a period of two weeks and paying subscribers would have first call on new books which were delivered every month.
(1901 - courtesy David Evans)
    Construction of the new library begins
Miss Enid Aston lays the first brick of the new Dursley Library in May Lane. After the ceremony Enid was taken by the photographer to Hills the florists and given flowers and 6d. Second from the left is George Drew who was in charge of building although officially retired.
(January 1936 - courtesy David Evans)
    The newly finished library
Seen here prior to the start of World War Two, the library is shown here completely surrounded by iron railings which were to disappear when hostilities began. Note too that at this time there was no second entrance door in the side of the front porch.
(October 1938 - courtesy David Evans)
    A wintry library
First opened in June 1936 at a cost of around £1000. Seen here closed up for the christmas and new year season.
(December 31st 2000)
    Dursley Library in the snow
Another view of Dursley Library during the brief snowfalls in the winter of 2000/2001.
(December 31st 2000)
    Dursley Library 2003
Springtime and the library stands in isolation next to the bus station. Now in 2007, this building has finally gone and its been replaced with one very different.
(May 3rd 2003)
    Dursley Library framework goes up
The framework of Dursley's new library starts to define its distinctive angular shape.
(June 5th 2005)
    Dursley Library from the bus station
Viewed from the opposite direction the sloping front of the new library is clearly visible.
(June 26th 2005)
    Dursley Library in its May Lane location
Built on exactly the same site as the old library, the completed building has certainly changed the face of May Lane.
(January 22nd 2006)
    Dursley Library 2006
Shortly before opening, the library reveals its unique appearance.
(February 5th 2006)