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Article compiled by Tony Granger 2006

The History of Burton Latimer's Libraries

Charles's Post Office
The Poplars
W.A. Charles' Post Office (left), home of a 1d Lending Library between the wars,
and The Poplars (right) where the library was housed from the mid-1940s until 1973.

It was as early as 1890 when attempts were first made in Burton Latimer to establish a free library for the parish. Making use of the Free Libraries Acts of the mid 19th Century some of the councillors called a meeting seeking support, but the prevailing opinion was that the establishment of such a library be deferred for the time being and to form instead a Limited Liability Company to build a Temperance Hall incorporating a public library, coffee parlour and other recreational rooms. This hall, known as the “Coffee House,” was eventually built and opened in 1898, and with it came Burton ’s first public library. To learn more about this, read the opening part of the article on The Coffee House.

The Coffee House eventually closed in 1925 when the premises were acquired by Barclays Bank. The public library supported by the County Council started in 1929 in the Council School where it opened for one evening a week under the supervision of Jean Coles. In 1936, Mr. W.J. Shrive is mentioned as its librarian. In addition to this another lending library was provided, albeit at a penny (1d.) a time, by Mrs Dacre at Charles's Post Office a little further along the High Street. When the Urban District Council moved its offices to the Poplars in 1942 the library was given a room there. this is where Mrs Betty Giles, assistant librarian was to complete many of her 27 years of service. It was to remain here until a brand new purpose built home was provided in 1973 next to the new Health Centre on the site of Wallis' Yard, following the demolition of the High Causeway houses in the late 1960's. To read about the opening of the new library, click here.

A 1973 view of the present library soon after its opening
The present home of the library, seen here in 1973 soon after its opening.

The Library is point 25 on the Town Trail feature on the site

(There is relatively little documentation relating to the history of the libraries. The Heritage Society would like to hear from anyone can provide any additional information.)

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