Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Penkridge Local History Group (Great Marsh Publications), underlines the importance of our Library and the Building to the community.

Another very successful and interesting meeting was held yesterday at the Haling Dene Centre, our last this year.   Claire Geoghegan (leader of Friends of Penkridge Library) started us off with a very interesting presentation on the history of our Library Building.  It has served the community in many ways over the years - the land in 1827 is shown on the map as a garden/allotment, let from the Littleton Estate. - Lord Hatherton gave the site to the Penkridge Savings Bank which had become a great success and in 1857 he got the permission of the National Debt Office in London to spend money on building the bank upon it.   In 1879 the Savings Bank was closed and funds transferred to the Post Office.  The building was then sold to the County Council and in 1881 they converted and enlarged the old bank building into a Police Station with quarters for a sergeant, a constable and two cells.  The Magistrates' Court, which used to be held in the Littleton Arms, was also switched to the building and in 1903 hearings of the case against George Edalji for the Great Wyrley horse maimings were held at the court.  Later Hollis Morgan was tried for the same offence there.  This all became national headline news and we now hear that Martin Clunes is appearing in a film being made about the incident.  (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played an important part which uncovered a major miscarriage of justice.)

It was still a Magistrates Court until the mid 1960s when a public meeting voted in favour of it becoming a permanent library and which took over from the Mobile one.   So it has been an Allotment, our Savings Bank, our Police Station, our Magistrates' Court and our Library.   Now there is a big consultation taking place over changing the status of our Library which is being fought vigorously by the Friends of the Library.  The County has been petitioned by over 3,000 Penkridge residents.  A Listed Building with major historical interest cannot and must not disappear - a public library run by professionals for the community is the best use of the building and by all accounts, that is what the vast majority of Penkridge people want.

1 comment:

Rose H (UK) said...

Goodness, I never dreamt that it had such a wonderful history.
I agree totally with your closing paragraph.
Best wishes
Rose H