Photo of the inside of Bromley House Library, with shelves filled with books and a spiral staircase at the far end

Bromley House Library is one of the last independent subscription libraries left in the UK © Historic England DP046312
Bromley House Library is one of the last independent subscription libraries left in the UK © Historic England DP046312

Bromley House Library's Future Secured

If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need

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Hidden in plain sight just off Nottingham’s bustling Market Square, Bromley House Library on Angel Row is situated above modern shopfronts but is a world away from the modern city.

It was built as a town house in 1752 by George Smith, grandson of the founder of Smith’s Bank. The Nottingham Subscription Library bought it in 1820. Today, it is listed Grade II* and is one of only a few independent subscription libraries left in the country.

A magnificent building with a rare walled garden, the library currently holds over 47,000 books, pamphlets and other texts, some from as early as the 17th century. The library is also the home of Nottingham’s meridian line and the first photographic studio in the Midlands.

Photo of the walled garden at Bromley House Library
Bromley House Library 's rare and unique walled garden © Historic England DP217203

Once capped at 265 members, current subscriptions number over 1,600. This has allowed the library to build a sustainable financial model. Fund-raising, a solid strategic business plan and close working with the community and volunteers mean Bromley House has been able to create ambitious plans.

This wasn’t always the case; falling membership rates and issues with the building fabric and accessibility have caused problems in the past. In 1929 the ground floor was converted into shop units to bring in an income.

More recently, works have been needed to repair the main roof structures, external and internal fabric, and strengthening works to support the beams on the first and third floors. Sustainability was a major factor in these repairs, and the re-use of bricks and tiles from the building, where possible, has been important to the project.

Photo of inside stairwell with flaking paint and old shelving. An index card chest of drawers sits on a table, next to a large wooden door.
The library interior in need of work © Historic England DP217210

A local Nottingham-based contractor, Ackroyd Construction, has been employed to complete the works. Together with the dedicated team at Bromley, loyal subscribers and local communities, the library and important historic building will be saved for future generations.

Rather than being seen as a negative feature of Bromley, the historic building and unique feel of this house and outside space are attractive to the local community. This has attracted investment through grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England, which have allowed this historic building to be sustainably repaired so that it can continue to be enjoyed and used by current and future generations.

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