Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 82534 44975


This List Entry was subjected to a Minor Amendment on 15/12/2016


SW8244NE PYDAR STREET 880-1/7/238 (East side) 30/10/89 The Public Library


Also known as: The City Library PYDAR STREET. Public library, formerly free library, opened 1896 by Passmore Edwards and extended with Central Technical Schools for Cornwall, opened 1899 by the Right Honorable the Earl of Edgcumbe, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall; both buildings designed by Silvanus Trevail; all donated by Passmore Edwards and with foundation stones laid by him. Local rubble, dressed local stone brought to course (principal elevations), rock-faced granite plinth and freestone dressings; dry Delabole slate roofs with coped gables, V-jointed clay ridge tiles and dressed stone axial stacks over the cross walls; original cast-iron gutters, rainwater heads and downpipes. Large slightly irregular overall rectangular plan: the original library is a U-shaped plan with 2 cross wings flanking an entrance hall leading to stair hall overlooking small rear courtyard; the left-hand cross wing has an axial passage/entrance hall behind the front room with its doorway fronting onto Pydar Street. In 1897 the foundation stone was laid for a technical school built on the right: this building is a shallow E-shaped plan, formed by the cross wings breaking forward slightly; there is a central entrance hall leading to a large stair hall. The style is an inventive mixture of Renaissance Classical and Domestic Gothic. Library is 2 storeys plus attics, technical school is 3 storeys. Complete and unaltered exterior with original doors and windows: the windows are wooden sashes sliding within stone transomed windows with stone mullions to those openings with multiple lights; at the rear are transomed timber windows except for large stone stair windows with double transoms and coloured glass; the top lights of the library windows also have coloured glass. Principal south-east front is of 1:1:1-bays to original library on the left, and of 1:1:1:1:1-bays to the taller former technical school, on the right. Both fronts are symmetrical with central doorways and the other bays are sub-divided into groups of mullioned windows. The library has pairs of 2-light windows on the ground floor, round-arched tripartite windows above and 2-light windows in the gables. Round-arched doorway has ironwork fanlight and 2-light window over; panelled doors; mid-floor stone fascia is continued across the later school. Generally, the technical school is more elaborate and has more complex Renaissance-style and Gothic-style detail: central round-arched doorway with spoked fanlight is set between pairs of rusticated pilasters in the manner of a Gibbs surround; succeeding floors are more complex: flat-headed groups of three 2-light windows to the ground floor; round-arched blind arches above the first-floor windows and basket-arched heads over the second-floor windows; the projecting central and outer bays are surmounted by pedimented gables; the recessed bays have central 2-light gabled windows flanked by 3-light blind panels with traceried heads. The most striking feature is a frieze containing carved craftsmen, over the first-floor windows of the central bay. The Pydar Street (SW) front of the library has similar detail to the other front but is irregular with 1:1:1-bays: ground floor of the entrance bay is slightly broken forward in the angle between the projecting left-hand bay and the remainder of this front; Stokes Memorial is in the frieze over the doorway; gable-ended bay, on the left, has a 3-light bay window on the ground floor and a smaller canted bay window above. Right-hand (NE) elevation is symmetrical with 3 pairs of lights to the middle of each floor; the upper floor has stepped pairs of lights rising into a steep pedimented gable. INTERIOR: virtually complete and unaltered with its original doorways, doors and ceiling cornices. The original library has an open-well stair with turned balusters; the technical school has an open-well stair with an iron balustrade. This is one of 6 libraries in Cornwall donated by Passmore Edwards; the technical school is the only example. Both parts of this building represent some of the best work by the noted Cornish architect, Silvanus Trevail.

Listing NGR: SW8253444975


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 01 Jun 2002
Reference: IOE01/05937/27
Rights: Copyright IoE Margaret Hocking. Source Historic England Archive
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