Jubilee Library & Local Studies Centre – open Weekdays and Saturday

Ye Olde Boar’s Head P.H. (left) and Jubilee Library (right) on Middleton’s Long Street look lovely in spring with the cherry blossom.

The library is an unusual early Arts & Crafts building that lies in the pleasant Jubilee Park at the centre of the Middleton conservation area. As well as the timber-framed pub, close by are St. Leonard’s Church and the Old Grammar School – the oldest pub, church and school in the Manchester region. Opposite is the unique Arts & Crafts Church – the heart of Middleton’s Golden Cluster of heritage.

Jubilee Library includes the Middleton Local History archive – which contains a wealth of historical resources including books, photographs, maps and newspaper archives. It is open most days to the public with free WiFi, a study area and photocopier and is as perfect for a relaxing browse as it is for serious study.

The Jubilee Library is open every day except Sundays and Bank Holidays. Latest opening times are HERE.

Jubilee Library has several interesting Arts & Crafts features. For example, the front is constructed using a pegged oak timber frame while the floor is reinforced concrete like a cotton mill. The design looks both to the past and the future for inspiration.

The official architect was Laurence Booth, a Bury designer then in his 50s. He won the local competition to design the building, ostensibly with this design. However, he built nothing like it before or afterwards and actually criticised its vernacular styling at the stone laying ceremony. Instead, the unique design is in the early Arts & Crafts styling of Edgar Wood (aged 29 in 1889) and recent study reveals that Wood was almost certainly the true designer or, at least, co-designer. Edgar Wood’s father, T. B. Wood and Edgar’s clients, the Schwabe family, ran the competition and were the principal benefactors in a public subscription.  It appears they kept Edgar’s role hidden to avoid local controversy. Not only were there the family ties to hide but also Edgar Wood’s designs were not universally popular in the small town of Middleton! Edgar Wood had to be hidden from the public gaze at least two other times.