Radcliffe, the Library and the Bealeys

Radcliffe Library 1908

Radcliffe library in 1908, a year after it was built on land purchased by Adam Crompton Bealey.

Radcliffe library has a very strong connection with the Bealey family. In 1902, the Urban District Council applied to Andrew Carnegie, a U.S. millionaire of Scottish extraction, for a Public Library Grant. The Carnegie U.K. Trust responded with an offer of £5000 topwards the cost of building a Public Library for Radcliffe.

In response to this, the Radcliffe & District Literary & Scientific Society which was founded in 1887, offered £300-£400 for the books stock. Additionally, Adam Crompton Bealey, the President of the Society put up £500 for the site to mark his year of office.

A.C. Bealey

Adam Crompton Bealey, President of the Radcliffe & District Literary & Scientific Society, who bought the site of the present library for the town.

Despite this generous offer, the Local Authority had second thoughts about taking responsibility for the cost of the annual upkeep of the proposed library and the question of “Shall Radcliffe have a Public library” became a controversial issue.

The Literary & Scientific Society ran its own referendum and campaigned vigorously for acceptance of the Carnegie offer, with eventual success.

Radcliffe Library on Stand Lane

Radcliffe Library on the Stand Lane site, formerly the site of a chapel and a newspaper.

The building, which is the one still in use in Stand Lane, occupies the original site of the first Bridge Wesleyan Chapel. When the new chapel was built in 1883, the old building was sold to the proprietors of the “Radcliffe Express” weekly newspaper which ceased publication in 1901. This is the site that Adam Crompton Bealey bought and presented to the town for its new library.

Radcliffe Library lending department

The lending department of the new library in 1907.

The new library was opened on 19th October, 1907 and the upstairs hall was allocated to the Museum. The facilities provided by the new library were modern and plush for the time with a reading room and an extensive lending department.

Radcliffe Library reading room

The reading room of the library provided facilities for everyone to read the latest editions of the newspapers.

Radcliffe Library lending department

The lending of a wide selection of books for the general public allowed many people to enjoy a new width and depth of knowledge which they had never previously had access to.

By 1952, the library contained over 35,000 volumes in addition to a reference department and a junior library for children to join. The reading room was still in operation with all of the leading daily and weekly newspapers, and weekly and monthly periodicals available for public use.

Radcliffe Library

The Radcliffe Library building would still be recognisable to Adam Crompton Bealey, whose benefaction has enabled the town to enjoy the leisure and education facilities, on the site he donated, for many generations.

This entry was posted in Archive News, Bealey Connections. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Radcliffe, the Library and the Bealeys

  1. Karen Ballington says:

    Very sad now that Bury council are considering closing it. This cannot be allowed to happen.

  2. Pingback: Radcliffe library – The Carnegie legacy in England

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