20th Century

York Central Library

York Central Library

The library was opened on 23rd September 1927 by the Right Honourable The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, Chairman of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust and President Elect of the Library Association.  Prior to this it had been housed in what is now York Dungeon on Clifford Street.

The building was designed by Walter Brierly and James Rutherford, and the contractors were Shepherd and Son of York.  The work cost a total of £26,500.

An extension was built in 1934 with another new wing added in 1938.  These housed the Reference Library, Children's Library, Basement and Marriott Room.

The library stands on the site of the former Infirmary of St. Leonard's Hospital. This was originally St. Peter's Hospital founded by King Athelstan, but it was destroyed in a fire in 1069.  It was then rebuilt in stone and later renamed by King Stephen.  Some of the ruins of this hospital can be seen in the library grounds.

Numerous relics and remains, both Roman and medieval, were found during excavations, including a Roman Oven.

The library service has changed a great deal since starting out as a subscription library when it first opened at the original site on Clifford Street.  Today the library is a busy hub of activity for the community, holding a huge collection of material available for people undertaking family and local history research, with enquiries received from all over the world.


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