Sefton Park Library, including boundary railings and gates


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Sefton Park Library, including boundary railings and gates, Aigburth Road, Liverpool, L17 4JS


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Statutory Address:
Sefton Park Library, including boundary railings and gates, Aigburth Road, Liverpool, L17 4JS

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

Liverpool (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Library, 1911, by Thomas Shelmerdine, Liverpool Corporation Surveyor. Ashlar and roughcast ground floor with half-timberwork above, substantial brick chimneystacks, tiled roof, cast-iron rainwater goods. Double-height hall (lending library) with mezzanine gallery and offices plus basement. Tudor Revival style

Reasons for Designation

Sefton Park Library, constructed in 1911 to the designs of Thomas Shelmerdine, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural quality: it has a distinctive Tudor Revival design that displays a careful attention to detail, and the building forms a landmark within the local area; * Planning: the original layout remains largely intact and retains its main lending-library hall surrounded by a mezzanine gallery and offices; * Intactness & interior quality: the library is little altered overall and retains a wealth of original interior features, including Art Nouveau-style balustrading to the gallery and stairs, built-in bookcases and cupboards, original doors, and fireplaces; * Architect: it was designed by the notable Liverpool Corporation Surveyor, Thomas Shelmerdine who has many listed buildings to his name, and it survives as a good example of his work, reflecting his significant contribution to the construction of municipal buildings in Liverpool.


Sefton Park Library was constructed in 1911 to the designs of Thomas Shelmerdine, Liverpool Corporation Surveyor. Amongst many other buildings within Liverpool, Shelmerdine was responsible for the design of the Hornby Library, which was added to the Picton Reading Room, Liverpool in 1906 (Grade II*) and a number of branch libraries, many of which are listed. Sefton Park Library was the last Liverpool branch library that Shelmerdine designed.

The library was previously located in the local Board Offices on Lark Lane, but transferred to the new building on Aigburth Road in 1911. The land for Sefton Park Library was bought by Liverpool Corporation. The library was erected at a cost of £5,000, which was funded by Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate and philanthropist. As noted in his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry, Carnegie was a prolific philanthropist who amongst many other donations during his lifetime, funded approximately 3,000 libraries in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and his adopted home of the United States. The library was opened on 3 August 1911 by Andrew Carnegie, Councillor S Mason Hutchinson, Lord Mayor, Councillor F J Leslie, Chairman of the Library, Museum & Arts Committee, and Councillor E C Given, Chairman of the Libraries Sub-Committee.

Part of the library's original grounds, situated to the south-west front, were lost in the mid-C20 when Aigburth Road was widened and the original boundary railings were moved further back to their present location. Part of the library's roof and the original lending counter were damaged during WWII when a bomb exploded nearby; the counter was subsequently removed.


Library, 1911, by Thomas Shelmerdine, Liverpool Corporation Surveyor. Ashlar and roughcast ground floor with half-timberwork above, substantial brick chimneystacks, tiled roof, cast-iron rainwater goods. Double-height hall (lending library) with mezzanine gallery and offices plus basement. Tudor Revival style

PLAN: Sefton Park Library has a squat T-shaped plan consisting of a large double-height, central hall with side aisles and a mezzanine gallery, and offices located towards the front of the building. To the front is an entrance hall projection and attached to the south-east side is a 1960s, single-storey extension, which is excluded from the listing. The library is surrounded by fairly extensive lawned grounds.

EXTERIOR: The building is set upon a sandstone ashlar plinth. The roughcast sections of the building incorporate individual, raised quoin stones to the corners and the ground- floor windows have quoined ashlar surrounds. All the window frames are original and consist of timber, multipaned casements, and the rainwater goods have hoppers decorated with relief rose motifs.

Front (south-west) elevation: This three-bay elevation faces south-west on to Aigburth Road and consists of a central, projecting gabled bay, which forms the south-west gable end of the central hall. The bay has close-studding half-timberwork above a tall stone plinth with decorative patterned timberwork to the gable apex. Set to the centre of the ground floor is the main entrance, which consists of timber double doors with multipaned glazed upper-lights set underneath a flat hood supported by three scrolled cast-iron brackets above. The doorway is flanked by two two-light windows and above to the centre is a large ten-light window. The entrance projection's side returns continue the half-timberwork. Set back to each side are the north-west return walls of two gabled bays fronting the side elevations, both with tall, diagonally-set, brick chimneystacks rising above the wall. The ground floor is in roughcast with a much lower ashlar plinth and half-timberwork confined to the first-floor level, which jetties out slightly.

North-west elevation: This elevation is of five-bays with a roughcast ground floor and half-timbered upper-floor level that is also slightly jettied and which contains windows that light the mezzanine gallery and offices. To the far right is a gabled bay that projects forward slightly and has a single-light window and three-light window to the ground floor; an arrangement that is replicated to the upper floor. The three bays to the far left also possess the same window arrangement, whilst the fourth bay has a single-light window on each floor.

South-east elevation: This elevation is identically styled to the north-west elevation, but with the addition of a c1960s, flat-roofed, single-storey, blue-brick extension attached in front of the gabled bay to the far left, which has resulted in the loss of a small, flat-roofed porch depicted in a historic photograph. The 1960s extension is excluded from the listing.

Rear (north-east) elevation: This elevation consists of three wide, gabled bays; the central one of which projects forward slightly and is identically styled to the main entrance projection. The bay forms the north-east gable end of the central hall, with a wide five-light window replacing the main entrance doorway. The two flanking bays are identically styled to one another with roughcast ground floors and half-timberwork to the upper floor, which is jettied out slightly. Three-light windows exist to both floor levels.

INTERIOR: Internally the library has a wide entrance vestibule with two sets of double-doors providing access into the main central hall/lending library behind. The entrance vestibule has exposed ceiling beams, a dentil cornice and a stone tile floor. Attached to the south-east wall is a Celtic Art Nouveau-style repousse copper panel commemorating the opening of the library by J A Hodel, with a cast-iron radiator below; cast-iron radiators can be found throughout the building. Set to the centre of the north-east wall is a window flanked by wide doorways with classical surrounds topped by dentil cornices and containing timber double doors styled like the main entrance with multipaned glazed upper panels.

The main lending-library hall is a large double-height space with a dentil cornice and a roof structure composed of a series of seven arched-braced roof trusses, the top sections of which are concealed by the ceiling. Clerestory-style windows provide additional light. The hall has two side aisles, which are separated from the main central space by a series of columns with Ionic-style bases set upon tall panelled plinths. It has been suggested that a parquet floor possibly survives underneath later coverings on the ground floor, although this is unconfirmed. Wrapping around the entire space, including over the entrance vestibule, is a mezzanine gallery fronted by a simple Art Nouveau-style, painted cast-iron balustrade. The gallery has floorboard floors at the south-west end, and a metal mesh-style walkway to the side aisles and north-east end. Lining the gallery walls are original built-in bookcases, which are now largely hidden behind later plyboard coverings, apart from those located at the south-western end.

Set to the south-west end of the hall on both the ground-floor and gallery levels are offices and toilets accessed through original three-panel doors and panelled doors with small, square, glazed upper lights. Both offices on the north-west side contain original built-in cupboards and timber fire surrounds; that to the first floor also retains its original green glazed-tile cheeks. An original telephone booth also survives on the north-west side of the ground floor and is now used to house the building's CCTV system. Two cast-iron spiral stairs provide access up to the mezzanine gallery and offices; that to the south-east side also provides access into the basement, which contains a modern boiler. A small children's department, which was originally located in the south corner of the ground floor and had its own side entrance porch, has since been opened-up and incorporated into the 1960s extension attached to the south-east side of the building. This extension, which is utilitarian in its nature and reads as a separate entity, is not of special interest and is excluded from the listing.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: The library and its grounds are enclosed to the south-west, north-west and north-east sides by painted cast-iron railings with intermediary scroll finials. Forming part of the boundary railings and aligned in front of the south-west main entrance is an entrance archway with scroll decoration, open-work piers topped by decorative finials, tall gates, and a central lantern displaying the words 'LENDING LIBRARY'. The south-west section of railings and entrance archway have all been moved backwards from their original location following the widening of Aigburth Road in the mid-C20. Later sections of plainer railings also enclose the immediate environs of the library in places.


Books and journals
Kelly, T, History of Public Libraries in Great Britain, (1977, 2nd Ed.)
Libraries, Museums, Music Committee, , The Public Libraries of Liverpool, (1939)
Pevsner, N, Pollard, R, The Buildings of England: Lancashire, Liverpool and the South-West, (2006)
, accessed from


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

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