Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham Central Library demolition set to begin in January

Birmingham's old library
Image caption Birmingham Central Library was designed by Birmingham-born architect John Madin

Demolition of the former Central Library in Birmingham is set to start in January, the city council has said.

The building, which opened in 1974, was described by Prince Charles as looking like "a place where books are incinerated, not kept".

A council spokesman said "stripping out" the interior is scheduled to begin in January, and demolition of the exterior will start in February.

An £189m library opened in the city's Centenary Square in September 2013.

Image copyright Birmingham City Council
Image caption Prime Minister Harold Wilson officially opened the library in January 1974
Image copyright Birmingham Library and Archive Services
Image caption A bid to get the building listed failed in 2009

The old library, in Chamberlain Square, was designed by Birmingham-born architect John Madin.

The Friends of the Birmingham Central Library campaigned to save it, describing the building as a "very good piece of architecture of its time".

"It's an iconic building and nothing like it will be seen again, if it goes," said Alan Clawley, secretary of the organisation.

"Obviously, it divided opinion but that's probably the mark of something worth having.

"The demolition is not really a surprise but it is very wasteful to knock down a building that's only 40 years old."

In 2009 the then culture and tourism minister, Margaret Hodge, turned down a bid to have the building listed because she was not satisfied it was "really of sufficient architectural or historic interest".

Birmingham's libraries

  • September 1865 - Birmingham's first public library opens
  • January 1879 - Fire significantly damages the building and contents
  • June 1882 - A rebuilt library reopens, filled by new donations
  • 1938 - The council approves the building of a new library but war postpones the plans
  • June 1970 - The foundation stone of a new library is laid on the same site as the old one
  • January 1974 - The library is officially opened by the Prime Minister Harold Wilson
  • Early 2000 - The council identifies major problems with the 1970s building
  • September 2006 - Centenary Square is revealed as the location for the new library
  • April 2009 - The new Library of Birmingham design is revealed
  • November 2009 - The Culture and Tourism Minister decides not to give the old Central Library listed status
  • December 2012 - Demolition of the old Central Library is agreed by the council
  • June 2013 - The library closes to readers, with more than 400,000 books being transferred
  • September 2013 - The new Library of Birmingham opens

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