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HER Number:178671
Name:REDRUTH - Post Medieval library


Redruth Free Library, Clinton Road. Architect James Hicks. Donors John Passmore Edwards and Mr O A Ferris of Truro. Recorded on the 2nd Edition 1:2500 OS Map.

Grid Reference:SW 7001 4182
Parish:Redruth, Kerrier, Cornwall
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Protected Status

  • Conservation Area: REDRUTH
  • Listed Building (II): Passmore Edwards Free Library and former Redruth College, and boundary walls

Other References/Statuses

  • Primary Record No. (1985-2009): 178671

Monument Type(s):

  • LIBRARY (19th Century - 1801 AD to 1900 AD)

Full description

Redruth Free Library, Clinton Road. Architect James Hicks (2). Donors John Passmore Edwards and Mr O A Ferris of Truro. Recorded on the 2nd Edition 1908 1:2500 OS Map (1).

Built in 1894-5 (4) and has a prominent castellated tower.

In 2015 an assessment of the building was carried out by Historic England to determine whether or not it was worthy of Listing. It was concluded that it was not, and protection was already in place via Conservation Area status (3).
From the 2015 Notification Report: "Redruth Library, one of Passmore Edwards’ first Cornish libraries, was designed by James Hicks. Hicks, a native of Redruth, was significant local figure, playing a role in the politics of the area, acting as an entrepreneur and, particularly as chief agent to the prominent landowner and politician Lord Clinton, playing a major role in the architectural regeneration of Redruth in the face of the C19 mining decline. Prolific as an architect, and not only in Cornwall, his work is recognised by the listing of a number of his more accomplished buildings; the designations reflect the variety of his commissions, which included private houses, and public and commercial buildings, as well as churches and chapels. His work for Passmore Edwards included the modest but accomplished Arts and Crafts art gallery at Newlyn, listed at Grade II.
James Hicks’s buildings in Clinton Road, developed from 1878 by Hicks as a new route to Falmouth, consists of the group of public buildings which includes the library, well as a stretch of private villas known as ‘Clinton Castles’ when first constructed. The buildings overall form a group which is undoubtedly of local interest, for the development of Redruth, as well as for the association with this local architect, and happily, this interest is reflected in the conservation area designation. The various public buildings, however, do not comprise a consistent group, having been built at different times and in very different styles, and it would not be appropriate to designate the library on the strength of group value alone.
The library building, with its striking corner tower is, externally, a noteworthy structure: the castellated baronial style in which it is built was certainly not innovative by the 1890s, but the genre is well-handled, with the muscular buttressed entrance and varied fenestration. However, to justify listing, a building of this date and type should generally have an exterior of particular architectural quality, as well as a noteworthy and rea onably intact interior. The interior of the Redruth library building is disappointing: the stair hall is of some interest, but its features – a Jacobean stair, geometric tiling, and stained glass to the lobby – are all of standard types. The upper reading rooms are without visible interest, though the false ceilings may obscure the original trusses. Downstairs, the walls of the reading rooms have been removed, the space opened up to merge with the 1970s linking block, and the Victorian house/office beyond. The single-storey 1970s block itself is of poor design, and detracts from the appearance of the library and office building, as well as blurring the important separation between the two. The current project has given us the opportunity of looking at two neighbouring Passmore Edwards libraries opened on consecutive days – this one at Redruth, and the Camborne Library designed by Silvanus Trevail. The comparison makes it clear that the Camborne Library is superior, both in terms of architectural quality, and of intactness." (3)

<1> Ordnance Survey, 1900s, 2nd Edition 1:2500 Map (Cartographic materials). SCO4050.

<2> Perry, R & Schwartz, S, 2001, James Hicks: Architect of Regeneration in Victorian Redruth, p 71 (Article in serial). SCO4114.

<3> Historic England, 2015, Historic England Advice Report Case Name: Public Libraries c.1850-1985: Redruth Library, Cornwall (Unpublished document). SCO26976.

<4> Redruth Town Council, Redruth Town Trails Leaflet (Booklet). SCO28681.

Sources / Further Reading

[1]SCO4050 - Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. 1900s. 2nd Edition 1:2500 Map.
[2]SCO4114 - Article in serial: Perry, R & Schwartz, S. 2001. James Hicks: Architect of Regeneration in Victorian Redruth. JRIC (2001). p 71.
[3]SCO26976 - Unpublished document: Historic England. 2015. Historic England Advice Report Case Name: Public Libraries c.1850-1985: Redruth Library, Cornwall.
[4]SCO28681 - Booklet: Redruth Town Council. Redruth Town Trails Leaflet.

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Related records: none recorded