Wimbledon Library, exterior

Wimbledon Library, exterior

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Partial / Incomplete Date c.1981
Area Wimbledon
Copyright 1 Merton library service
Picture Reference Wim_​37_​12-1
Original Format Photo
Notes / History The Free Public Library opened here in 1887. Surprisingly its construction had been the cause of some dispute. In 1880, solicitor and temperance campaigner, James Van Sommer proposed the building of a public library in order to make books more readily available to working people. (Prior to this, readers paid to join subscription libraries and reading clubs). The chairman of the Local Board (an early form of local authority) opposed the idea, as a potential drain on the public purse.
In 1886, the chairman, John Townsend overturned this decision and part of the former Thomson’s Nursery site on Wimbledon Hill was purchased for the new library construction. Designed by Messrs Potts, Sulman and Hennings, the building was made from finely ornamented Victorian brick and was originally surrounded by trees, railings and privet hedges.

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