On entering the Library I found myself in a vaulted foyer with walls of green Cipollino marble. I headed to the first floor and the reference section in search of information about the library building. The reading room of the reference section dates to the opening of the Library in 1906. It contains the original, wooden study carrels, sculpted columns and a glass ceiling allowing in plenty of natural light.
In the alcoves to the sides of the central reading room you can still see the book lifts at intervals, used for ferrying books around in the days before open access.
|A dumbwaiter for books!|
The front of the building features three decorative lunettes (crescent-shaped alcoves, often containing sculpture or other decoration) with sculpted tableaux of great personalities from the history of English.
|Chaucer and characters from the Canterbury Tales.|
|The Venerable Bede and friends.|
|Alfred the Great and Chroniclers.|
The building was designed by the English architect Charles Holden who also designed a number of Tube stations in London and the University of London's Senate House. Holden was a contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and perhaps they shared ideas, or were influenced by similar sources, as when you walk around to the rear of the Library you are instantly reminded of Mackintosh's Hill House.
|The rear of Bristol Central Library - designed contemporaneously and very similar to Hill House|