This Carnegie funded Public Free Library was officially opened 12th April 1913, when being presented to the Town of Huthwaite by its Urban District Councillors. Although town status never was asserted, this library did surpass a centenary celebration.
For almost 75 years this most ornate village structure replicated the architects sketch, originally penned 1912 by E W Bostock. But an undated night view sheds light upon one very significant change within that time, that could now be so easily overlooked.
It prompts retelling my grandmothers memory when that attracted greater public interest. Groups apparently entered just to witness here the magical marvel of Bakelite switches giving instant indoor lighting. Electricity was reportedly installed 1934 by Councillors, while still converting gas lit lamp posts leading into newer streets.
Sign above doorway displaying "Branch Library" somewhat reflects how Huthwaite lost individual status following merger into a Sutton Urban Council. The Ashfield District authority took over later, but a 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act had already placed full responsibility for our public libraries under highest tier of Nottinghamshire County Council. Their decision to temporary close this amenity was primarily driven by politically correct needs to enable wheelchair access. After giving due consideration to add an electric platform lift, a cheaper ramp was justified in order to ensure all would have easier, self reliant access.
During lengthy process rebuilding a frontage blocking visitor access it offered a timely opportunity to update the internal layout marking a 75th anniversary. I recall books had been authoritatively stamped out at a tall entrance counter fronting an office enclosure on right, with lots of varnished woodwork decor. An austere Victorian superiority overly displayed by one particular librarian did not encourage a lone youngster member, far removed from warmer relaxed invites offered since. But as an avid reader with troubled sleep through early teenage years, reading the flying adventures of Biggles inspired far pleasanter dreams.
This Sutton-in-Ashfield branch library was eventually reopened to the Huthwaite public on 10th May 1989, a month beyond its marked 75 years. Dated archives show completion of that new ramp. It didn't win many residents critical acclaim, especially when keeping the heavy challenge of opening those frontal doors. But elderly visitors could not deny it has usefully eased entrance through later years.
Internal changes were rather more subtle in design. Lighter coloured decor enhanced an opened layout, featuring a centralised librarians station relocated at rear. Earlier electrical updates recognise existing florescent lighting, illuminating redefined sections.
October 2002 photos don't reveal much difference, except for 13 years of noticeable ageing. External comparisons see a subordinately titled branch sign replaced with a prominent Notts C.C. logo in pride of place over a truly reasserted Huthwaite Library.
Those changes are however, only the prelude for a 2002 closure that safely installed internet services.