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The view from Katesgrove Hill

The old Whitley library is now closed

Whitley Library – 2 June 2018

Whitley Library closed its doors on Saturday 2 June at 1pm after 80 years of serving the local population. It will re-open in the south Reading community hub on Tuesday 19 June.

On the last day at 205 Northumberland Avenue, the library team was Matthew Breadman, Felicia Edwards and volunteer Linda Day.

Last day at 205 Northumberland Avenue – the library team, from L to R Linda Day (volunteer), Felicia Edwards and Matthew Breadman

The South Branch Library opened at 3pm on Tuesday, 2 April 1935 and heralded the further expansion of Whitley. Reading already had two branch libraries; the West End Public Library (Battle Library) which opened in 1908 and Caversham Library which opened in 1907. Palmer Park Library in the east was still to come and Reading Central Library was on Blagrave Street in the Town Hall building until it moved to Kings Road in the 1980s.

The library was opened by Mayor Dr G H R Holden, and also present were councillor A W Tudor, chair of the libraries committee, and the borough librarian Mr F M Bunce as well as other councillors. Local schools were represented by the heads of Palmer Central School, Whitley Park School and Palmer Girls’ School.

Mr I W Parfitt, who was to be in charge of the library, was present at the ceremony. Other staff in the early years included Arthur Swain and Albert Gregory, pictured above.

Assistant Librarian Miss Swadling read an extract from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Feeding the Mind’, a short paper which includes advice such as:

Having settled the proper kind, amount, and variety of our mental food, it remains that we should be careful to allow proper intervals between meal and meal, and not swallow the food hastily without mastication, so that it may be thoroughly digested; both which rules, for the body are also applicable at once to the mind.

The mayor borrowed the first book from the library, selecting ‘Famous Duels and Assassinations’. This could have been the book by Lewis Melville and Reginald Hargreaves, published in 1930. Unfortunately it is not in the current library catalogue.

The last book to be borrowed was ‘Reading Abbey‘ by Jamieson B Hurry and it was borrowed by Dennis Wood, author of ‘Views from the Hill, The Story of Whitley‘.

Matthew Breadman (L) issues the last book from the library to Whitley historian Dennis Wood (R) – Reading Abbey by Jamieson Hurry

Links and References
  1. Whitley Library
  2. South Reading community hub takes shape on Northumberland Avenue
  3. Whitley Library: the architecture of hope
  4. Council proposes reduction in opening hours at Whitley Library
  5. Reading Libraries
  6. Berkshire Chronicle report 5 April 1935, page 13.
  7. Lewis Carroll, Feeding the Minds, at Project Gutenberg
  8. Lewis Melville (Lewis Saul Benjamin) and Reginald Hargreaves, Famous Duels and Assassainations, at
  9. Jamieson B Hurry, Reading Abbey, at
  10. A New Book about Whitley
  11. Dennis Wood, Views from the Hill. The Story of Whitley

1 comment

  1. This is one of the first and the only remaining (?) civic building from the earliest days of the Whitley estate. Surely the facade should be kept whatever development takes place?

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