Lister Drive Library
Written by Steven   
Monday, 20 August 2012 18:32

Andrew Carnegie wrote the following :

"A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert."

2012 Liverpool Echo Nov 7th Liverpool's Historic Lister Drive Library gets major boost.

Pitch - Lister Drive Library.

The Grade II Listed Library was gifted to the people of Tuebrook, Liverpool by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Lister Steps, a Community-based childcare charity, hopes to relocate from 29 temporary buildings it currently occupies. Gaynor McKnight chief executive of Lister Steps, wants the building to become a 45-place nursery , meeting venue, reading club and home to local historians.

Lister Steps was selected by Liverpool City Council as preferred bidder to the library, the estimated cost of the proposal is £2 million.

Plus points

Ticks the heritage, social welfare and profit boxes. The trust claims that in the future there would be a reduction in  the number of welfare payments paid out in the community because of the employment and earning opportunities offered by the facility.

Dragon's Reservations

The Trust has not yet reached the planning stage and is still in the process of putting together its bid for the first round of Heritage Lottery funding. There is a chance that a private developer may come forward with a scash offer by the time negotiations with Liverpool City Council reach the point where the asset formally transfers ownership.

And the winner is...

Lister Drive Library

Lister Steps was awarded 20 days free consultancy advice and a bottle os champagne.

The dragond noted that the scheme would have a hugely benificial impact on the local community, serving as a childcare and educational facility. The bidders were able to prove the financial viability of the scheme.

Read more follow link.


The Carnegie Library Highlighted.

A move by Lister Steps, a well established charity delivering key services, they are based on Green Lane and have now submitted their bid for the Andrew Carnegie Library we feel this would significantly improve the environment currently they are sited next to a power station pretty bleak, although once inside the temporary portacabins, a fantastic space and area opens up. What wonders they could achieve if they where granted ownership of such a magnificent building. Currently they have preferred bidder status.

Their aim to bring back into usage Lister Drive Library as a Carnegie Community HUB.

In the Liverpool Daily post and Mercury wednesday June 28th 1905  Sir William B Forwood said..

"Shortly after visiting Liverpool to open the South-end Library, Mr. Carnegie wrote him a letter expressing what he had seen in Liverpool and with what they where doing in regard to the Library movement and offered what he had not done before to build them a Library. The Corporation gratefully accepted this offer".

The free library movement was well underway in Liverpool as can be seen from this fifty eigtht


Some words from Sir William B Forwood. Recollections of a busy life.

We were fortunate in inducing Mr. Andrew Carnegie to open the new library in Windsor Street, and he was so much pleased with it that he offered to build for us a duplicate in West Derby.

He remarked it was the first time he had ever offered to give a Library, making it a rule that he must be invited to present one, and then if the site was provided, and a suitable income assured to maintain it, he gave the necessary funds for the building as a matter of course. Mr Carnegie subsequently presented us with another library for Garston, and more recently he gave me £19,000 for two more libraries, making his gift to Liverpool £50,000 in all.

I can’t think of a better use for this building other than Lister steps which has served the community educating the little ones, delivering great services for a number of years and I truly believe after looking at the charities constitution this building will help the organisation develop other parts of its charitable aims, objectives and improve valuable services that have been lost within the area.

This would also have a knock on effect and bring more footfall to the area, local shops who are having a hard time will benefit significantly with any increase.


The Press article.

The Branch Library which has been erected on the corner of Green Lane, West Derby and Lister Drive, through the municifence of Mr. Andrew Carnegie at the cost of £15.750, was last evening formally opened by Sir. William B. Forwood, chairman of the Library, Museum, and Arts committee. The New Library whuch has been stocked with 8.500 volumes in all departments of Literature, is a handsome structure, built from designs prepared under the direction of Mr. Thomas Shelmerdine, Corporation Surveyor.

The building and ornamental grounds occupy 5.731 square yards of land . The entrance hall is octagonal, with doors radiating to the several departments - lending library, general reading room, womens reading room, juvenile library, and boys' reading room.

On each side of the doorways their are two alchoves - one of which will be reserved for a bust of Mr. Carnegie. The wing on the left is the boys and girls' reading room (55 ft by 26 ft); the right wing is the general reading room (66 ft by 30 ft inelusive of bays), whilst the centre of the building is reserved for the public lending library, book storage space and a librarians room. The ladies room (30 ft by 20 ft), with seperate entrance from Lister Drive, is quaint and tasteful in design, the building had two storeys and a basement.

Preliminary to the opening ceremony, Sir William B. Forwood was entertained to a complimentary dinner at the Town Hall by the Lord Mayor, who had invited the members of the Library, Museum and Arts Committee and a few friends to honour the occasion. Amongst those present where Dr Commins, Professor Paterson, Mr F. J. Leslie, Alderman W.B.  Bowring, M.H. Maxwell, and J. N. Stolterfoht, A. Armour, A. Bathgate, E. Berry, J. Bibby, H. Chaloner Dowdall, William Evans, J. Harrison Jones, Mr E. Kearney, Henry Miles, Peter Cowell, T. Shelmerdine, R. Morgan, Samuel Skelton, T. Shaw, R. E. W. Stephenson, T. Utley, E. R. Pickmere, (Town clerk) and Percy Corkhill.

Image 1922

Mr Robert D. Holt (Lord Mayor of Liverpool 1892 - 1893) one of the oldest members in the Committee, was prevented by indisposition from being present. He wrote "Such a present as this library is invaluable, and the thoughtful donor will long be remembered as one of Liverpool's Benefactors, Sir William Forwood as chairman of the Library Committee, has, with much forsight and appreciation of the wants of our reading public, done much to make attractive to the general reader, as well as to the student, our various libraries. The Citizens of Liverpool hardly know  how much they are indebted to Sir Wiliiam Forwood for his thoughtful guidance of our Library work. The open book-shelves which are so much appreciated where his suggestion."

Sir Edward Russell, who was in London, wrote "I am very sorry indeed to be unable to be at the Forwood dinner esspecially as my admiration of Sir William Forwood and my idea of the gratitude which the city owes him".

The Lord Mayor, in proposing "Our Guest - Sir William B Forwood" said it was fourteen years ago since he (the Lord Mayor) had the pleasure of joining the Library, Museum, and Arts Committee. Sir William Forwood was then elected chairman of the committee and had continued uninterruptedly to occupy the position. Throughout the fourteen years which had intervened he had ably led the committee, and it was owing to the ability of the leader and the confidence of his followers in him that tthe committee had been able to do so much. During the thirty years he had been in the City Council he had influenced that body for good and in that way had rendered a distinct service not only to the City but to the State (applause).

Sir William Forwood, in responding, adverted to the complimentary observations which had fallen from the Lord Mayor, and said that one of the greatest reward of public life was to know that one's efforts were appreciated by those best able to judge of their worth. Glancing retrospecively at the public library movement in Liverpool, he paid a cordial tribute to the excellent work accomplished by Sir James Picton, who up the time he (Sir William Forwood) became chairman, had occupied that position for a considerable period.

Image 1912

Sir James he said, laid the foundation of the Reference Library, which was today one of the most valuable of its kind in the country. When fourteen or fifteen years ago, Sir James Picton left the committee it had a debt of somthing like £8,000. Since then there had been a rising tide of public opinion in favour of public libraries and the library movement, and Liverpool had benefited accordingly. The movement in Liverpool had been very much helped by the excellent officers such as Mr. Peter Cowell, the chief librarian and Mr. Dyall the late curator of the Art Gallery who had been in the service of the committee.

The success of the committee's work had been largely due to the fact that the members had individually had felt their responsability. During the past fourteen years they had not only paid off the debt of £8.000. but had increased the number of their lending libraries, remodelled the central library, and built the Museum extension at a cost of £150.000. They still had some Parliamentary obligations to fulfil at Garston, and then they could rest content that they had done their duty in regard to lending libraries for some time to come. He trusted before another twelve months had passed they would be able to lay the foundation stone to the extension to the Art Gallery, and then he did not know where they could find such a unique, and magnificent range of institutions

He thought there was great promise in the negotiations they where at present conducting with the authorities of the University, and that before long they might be able to link their institutions with the University and the different Learned  societies of Liverpool, and by that means help forward the great movement for the higher culture and education of the people of Liverpool. He hoped that at no very distant time Liverpool would be universally be considered a centre of learning, of literature and of art excelled only by London (applause).


Image 1935

The party afterwards travelled to the library in a special tramcar, the Lord Mayor presided, and the proceedings were attended by a large number of residents in the neighbourhood. The Lord Mayor said that Mr Carnegie had by his gift of the library hedered a signal service to the city, and one which would keep his name and memory fresh in the minds of the citizens (applause). In asking Sir William Forwood to perform the opening ceremony, his lordship asked him to accept two bound volumes of the catalogue and a handsome gold key (applause).


The head of the key, which is elaborately pierced and carved, contains on one side an enamelled view of the library, and above is the crest of Sir W. B. Forwood D. L.  J. P. in full heraldic blazon also in enamel.

On the other side the following inscription appears :-

Presented to Sir W B Forwood D.L. J.P. by the Library, Museum, and Arts Committee Liverpool on the opening of the Andrew Carnegie Library West Derby 27th June 1905.

The wards of the key form the initials of the recipient "W. B. F."

The above is enclosed in a handsome velvet case and was specially designed and manufactured by

ELKINGTON AND CO LIMITED, The King's goldsmiths, 27 and 29 Lord Street Liverpool

Sir William Forwood said that Mr. Carnegie had written to say he was very much regretted that he could not be present to perform the opening ceremony. In America Mr. Carnegie had built 671 libraries at a cost of six million pounds; in England he had built 325 libraries at a cost of £1.400.000. and he had also built a large number of libraries in Canada and New Zealand. In addition he had endowed Universities in Scotland and America, and provided pensions for retired professors and teachers of education in America.

Shortly after visiting Liverpool to open the new south end library, Mr. Carnegie wrote him a letter expressing his pleasure at what he had seen in Liverpool, and with what they were doing in regard to the library movement, and offered - what he had not done before - to build them a library. The Corporation gratefully accepted the offer (applause).

There were some people who cavilled at free libraries they thought that the money might be better expended in other ways than in the erection of them. The best answer to that was to ask those people to come down any day of the week to their Reference Library in William Brown Street and see the large number of people of all classes who made use of it. A library properly conducted was but a great continuation school.

The Education Act of 1870 created an intellectual appetite among the people, and that they must satisfy by providing the means for obtaining books with great facility (hear, hear). As showing the greatly increased use made of the growing libraries, he mentioned that fourteen years ago the number of volumes issued in the Reference Library was 539.000, and last year it was  615.000.

In the lending libraries the numbers were 572.000. volumes fourteen years ago and last year it was 1.347.000. Fourteen years ago  they had in the Reference Library 96.000. volumes today they had 130.000. (Applause). Sir William concluded that by declaring the building open, and expressed the hope that it would be a great benefit, happiness and pleasure to the people of West Derby.

Thanks were accorded to Sir WIlliam B Forwood for his kindly services, and a similar complement was paid to the Lord Mayor for presiding


Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 February 2013 14:26