Libraries in Irthlingborough
1882 – 2022

1882 – Irthlingborough Literary Society was formed using Rooksby’s old “clicking” room as its premises. Members paid one shilling (5p) per quarter and were provided with a library of 300 books, the London newspapers and suitable magazines.

1890 – Included in the auction of the estate of the late Reverend Richard Ash Hannaford was his library of over 300 books but this was, of course, a private collection.

A good sized room at the Working Men’s Club was used as a lending library with dozens of books stored in glass cases. National and local newspapers were also available to members. “Bruzzie” Lines from Hayway was one librarian and charges were ½d or one penny per book borrowed.

When the Church Institute opened in 1910 books, newspapers and magazines were made available for members’ use.

Books were available to borrow at a small charge from Crawford Jones, newsagent now Toni’s.

1929 – A library opened in Irthlingborough on 29th May and within one month had 413 members. With no purpose built accommodation available the library operated from just inside the front door of the Senior School which is now the Junior School and the upstairs Board Room of the Infant School overseen by Ellen and Annie Berwick. The scheme received the full support of the headmaster of the Senior School, of whose involvement more in just one moment.

1931 – Membership of the library had risen to 669, the largest in Northamptonshire but Irthlingborough Council was ‘brought to book’ by the County Council for having paid the Honorary Librarian, headmaster Mr William Taylor an honorarium of £10. The Council was informed that such payment was ‘totally out of order’ as only the County Council was allowed to spend money on libraries. Furthermore it went against the County Council’s policy of encouraging a voluntary spirit. Mr Taylor immediately offered his resignation which was received with great regret. Mr L. P. Jones was invited to fill the vacant position. In about 1943 or thereabouts responsibility for the library was taken over by Mrs Alice Skerritt.

1948 – In response to local demands for a dedicated library the Town Council was told in September to provide a suitable building and the County Council would provide staff and books.

1951 – In April it was proposed by the Council General Purposes Committee that the coach-house in the grounds of The Limes in Station Road, formerly the home of Dr. Robb, be used as a library for the town. Irthlingborough Council provided £250 towards the £3,580 costs of the purchase and altering of the building. For a short period before the coach-house was ready for use, the nearby building now the Tandoori Restaurant was used as a library.

1952 – Irthlingborough Library was opened in April by Alderman. T. G. Tebbutt, chairman of the County Libraries Committee, supported by Cllr. G. W. Crouch chairman of Irthlingborough Council and Cllr. Charles Grimmer. In the first six months after the opening 16,000 books were loaned out.

1953 – By June a total of 42,833 books had been loaned since the opening 14 months earlier to 997 adult members and 421 children, almost 29% of the town’s population were members.

The former coach-house cum dovecot was perhaps not ideal accommodation but preferable to that which had formerly been provided in the Senior School and the upstairs room at the Infant School. Many older residents will recall with pleasure their visits to the ‘new’ library which was presided over by Mrs Alice Skerritt. She is remembered as being very firmly in control, but always helpful and approachable. Many too will remember Mrs Gwyneth Eggleton also working there.

In the 1960s a room in the Community Centre in Shortlands on Crow Hill was used as a library, being open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

1972 – 2nd October the Health Centre with Public Library above was opened opposite Doctors Yard in the High Street. 50 years ago and it seems like yesterday! Mrs Eggleton and Mrs Juliet Pack both worked in the new library.

1997 – 30th October – Spinney Brook Medical Centre was opened by Dr Alastair McGibbon. The former health centre was then used by Headway with the Library remaining above.