Beverley Library and Art Gallery


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Beverley Library, Champney Road, Beverley, HU17 8HE


Ordnance survey map of Beverley Library and Art Gallery
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Statutory Address:
Beverley Library, Champney Road, Beverley, HU17 8HE

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

East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Beverley Library and Art Gallery by architect John Cash, built 1904-1910, with extensions of 1928 by Herbert Cash, funded by John Champney. Not included in the listing is the 1971 rear extension and extension of 2007.

Reasons for Designation

Beverley Library and Art Gallery, of 1904-1910 by John Cash, with extension of 1928 by Herbert Cash, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: for strong composition and competent handling of the Jacobethan style; * Materials: for well-executed stone and terracotta detailing demonstrating expert craftsmanship; * Interior: although the main lending library has been reconfigured, other principal interior spaces have undergone little alteration, and are characterized by fittings and finishes of high quality; * Layout: for retention of key elements of the plan form, which are representative of Edwardian closed-access library planning, and combined cultural functions; * Historic interest: as a good example of Edwardian philanthropy and its contribution to the dissemination of culture and the arts; * Group value: makes a strong contribution to the conservation area, and stylistically coherent with other listed elements of the civic cluster.


Limited library provision, on a subscription or circulating basis, was available in Beverley from 1740, enhanced in the C19 by the East Riding Mechanics’ Institute, which held 1,000 volumes by 1852. The first record of a public library for the town appears in the Town Council Minutes of 1902, which records that the Mayor had been approached by a ‘gentleman offering to provide the necessary funds to build a public library and museum in Beverley.’ The gentleman was John Champney (1846-1929), who was born and spent his early years in the town, before moving to Halifax and joining the textile business of his uncle, the prominent industrialist and philanthropist, Edward Akroyd, eventually becoming a director in the firm of James Akroyd and Sons.

Following agreement of the Council, a resolution was passed, and the Committee recommended the adoption of the Public Libraries Act of 1892. Champney had laid a condition that the land must be provided by the Town, and a site was subsequently purchased by donation from the Mayor, William Spencer. Beverley Public Library was built in stages, the first rectangular block constructed between 1906 and 1908, with a later extension in a similar style added to west in 1928. Champney was heavily involved in the selection of a suitable site, and oversaw the selection of design, which he specified should be 'brick with stone or carved brick mouldings, solidly built and well planned to save cost in maintenance hereafter.' He also stipulated that ‘sufficient land be left at the rear for enlargement, as an additional building may be required in the future.’

The successful architect was John Cash, originally of Newcastle but latterly of 28 Newman Street, London. Plans were approved in 1904, and work began in autumn of the same year. The contractor was George Pape of Butcher Row, Beverley. Building work was completed in the summer of 1906, with the Newsroom opened on 8 August of that year. The Lending Library opened on 9 February 1907. The Art Gallery is not shown on the original plans, which depict a simple flat asphalt roof covering the lending and reference rooms. This portion, to the rear of the building, was subsequently raised, and the Art Gallery was opened in August 1910.

In 1926, John Champney bequeathed his collection of books to Beverley Library, with the instruction that they should be ‘kept together as a reference library in a separate room to be erected as hereinafter provided in a similar manner to the Dyce and Foster Libraries at the South Kensington Museum.’ Champney allocated £13,000 for the building of the extension, as well as the establishment of an endowment fund for repair of the building, care of collections, and make other contributions to the running of the library. Cash had died in 1926, and the commission subsequently went to his son, Herbert William Cash, in a style which closely follows that of the original building, with bricks specially commissioned to match the originals. The contractor was James Constable of Newbegin, Beverley; stonemasons were John Peers and Sons, with carving by Herbert Verity, both of Hull. An C18 frieze was inserted to the stair hall of the principal block at this time, salvaged from the old Nag’s Head Inn at Grovehill, but originally from Hotham House at Eastgate in Beverley, the home of Sir Charles Hotham. It is likely to have been carved by William Thornton of York.

On opening, the library operated a closed access system, with Burgesses entitled to borrow books free of charge, and others entitled to loan books on production of a voucher which was to be purchased at a rate of one penny from the librarian. Within the first month, 582 readers had enrolled and 2,296 books loaned. A partial open access system was introduced in 1910, with technical and scientific volumes placed on open shelves. By 1915, all books except fiction were available with open access, with all books finally accessible by 1920.

The library was extended to the S in 1971, significantly enlarging the lending library and also involving the addition of a junior library, record room, and offices. In 2007, a new archive and local studies centre was added to the S and E of the building, which accommodates up-to-date storage and search facilities and contains new glazed entrance corridors to both the lending library and art gallery. Since this time the original principal entrance and stair hall has been closed to normal public access. A number of original chairs are in situ on the landing.

Beverley Library sits on the south side of Champney Road, and forms part of a civic group of buildings, several of which are listed. They include the Humberside Council Offices (Grade II) and County Hall (Grade II).


Edwardian red brick public library and art gallery of 1904-1910, built in a Jacobethan style to designs of John Cash; W extension of 1928 in a similar style, late C20 extensions to the rear, and a substantial extension of 2007 to the E. Not included in the listing is the 1971 rear extension and extension of 2007.

MATERIALS: Flemish-bonded red brick, with flush sandstone banding and stone and terracotta dressings. Main roofs are tiled, with a copper-covered roof to the pavilion entrance bay and link wing.

PLAN: a rectangular original block with projecting end bays, narrow link block at the W to the 1928 addition, a large 2007 extension to the S and E attached to the original block at the E by a glazed steel-framed link corridor.

EXTERIOR: the principal elevation faces N onto Champney Road. The original 1906 block is asymmetrically arranged with a three-bay central section flanked by curvilinear gabled end bays, and a full-height pavilioned entrance bay to the E end. Set back to the W is a two-storey extension of 1928, square-on-plan having a cross-gabled roof breaking forward into wide projecting central bays at the N and W, containing all openings. It is attached to the original block by a two-storey link block with splayed ends. The upper floors of both proportions are partially lit by roof-lights. The rear elevations are largely concealed by later extensions.

The original block is dominated by the entrance bay, which is clasped by piers to the upper level and fronted by a distyle Ionic portico topped by a transomed and mullioned sandstone bay window, divided into 15 multi-paned casement windows over a panelled sandstone apron bearing the Beverley Coat of Arms. The principal entrance is round-arched, with carved monograms ‘JEC’ to the squinches, and a pair of studded oak doors. Curvilinear gabled bays at the N and E break the cornice; each is clasped by piers, detailed with horizontal and vertical flush banding, and lit by a pair of round-arched windows at each floor, resting on continuous moulded sandstone sills, with gauged brick reveals and fixed sandstone tympana. The three central windows to the N elevation are set back, those to the ground floor having enriched terracotta panels over, and separated by banded pilasters. All windows are original timber transomed and mullioned latticed casements.

The contemporary (2007) extension breaks thorough to the original building at the S side of the E elevation and the S elevation is completely abutted. At the rear, the 1928 link block remains exposed, with subservient detailing. Above it, the W gable of the original block has a carved panel representing the Beverley Coat of Arms, repeated at the W gable of the 1928 extension over a full-height canted bay with pavilion roof, lit by four windows at each floor. To the N, three windows are contained in the breakfront, detailed as the main block, with an occulus window set into the gable above with hood mould and festoons clasping a datestone of 1928.

INTERIOR: the building is now accessed from the 2007 extension at the E. The original floor plan remains intact with minor changes, and a significant proportion of original detailing is also intact. The main changes are located to the original lending library, which retains few original visible features.

The original entrance hall has a green, grey and white mosaic tiled floor with geometric pattern; ahead is a panelled and part-glazed oak screen door with fixed matching side panels and a modillioned entablature, dividing the hall from a small office which is accessed from the lending library. To the right, accessed via a pair of oak panelled doors (as previous) is the original stair hall, a double height space containing an original open-well, open-string stone staircase with a wrought-iron balustrade and a sweeping timber handrail. The ceiling is barrel-vaulted and panelled, bordered by an C18 rinceau oak frieze. All doors are original, and are similarly detailed, with original moulded oak architraves, door furniture and brass-plated door plates with maker’s marks. The door to the lending library from the stair hall is wider than others, containing two doors with a central fixed panel, set in a segmental headed opening and having a fixed glazed toplight.

The former newsroom, to the NE, has been opened to the lending library, although the segmental opening profile is retained, and secondary doors remain as blind niches. These spaces are generally modernised, with suspended ceilings (likely to cover original features) and carpeted floors. Original divisions in the lending library have been removed. A portion of oak panelled wainscoting remains in a part of the former newsroom that now serves as an office, with later partition wall.

The 1928 reference library is accessed via a groin-vaulted link corridor, which also contains access to toilet facilities, having original glazed tiles. The reference room retains an original oak door surround with gilded lettering without, and segmental pedimented entablature with pilasters within. It has panelled wainscoting throughout, and a cornice with a deeply coffered ceiling. Some original furniture remains, including the original service desk and newspaper racks. Original shelving and racks also remain within the librarian’s space.

The first floor is largely original. The landing is stone-floored, with a door at the W to the staff room, formerly the Committee Room, ahead to the art gallery, and at the E to the gallery office, formerly the Lecture Room. The staff room retains an Art Nouveau chimneypiece with green tiled inset and oak surround; the ceiling is panelled in a Jacobethan style. The gallery office is plainly detailed, with a coved ceiling. The gallery is lit from above by a series of six rooflights set into a barrel-vaulted roof with floriate plasterwork embellishments to the ribs. The floor is polished herringbone parquet, and walls are painted a deep red. To the W end is a wide oak-framed opening with entablature and pilasters containing two windows and a pair of doors, leading to the link block to a W gallery. The W gallery is detailed as previous, with white walls, and cornice set on scrolled foliate console brackets. It is lit at the W by a four-light bay window with polished oak surround having an integral window seat.


Books and journals
Mulcahy, G (Editor), Beverley’s Benefactor: John Edward Champney (1846-1929), (2010)
East Riding Council (2015) About Beverley Art Gallery, accessed 19 September 2016 from


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

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

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