Bromley House Library

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Bromley House Library
Exterior from Angel Row, 2013
Country United Kingdom
Type Subscription library
Established April 1, 1816 (1816-04-01)
Location Nottingham

Bromley House Library (originally the Nottingham Subscription Library) is a subscription library in Nottingham.


The 'Standfast Library' in Bromley House Library, has a meridian line used to determine local solar noon.

The library is situated in Bromley House, a Georgian townhouse in Nottingham city centre. This building is grade II* listed[1][2] and retains many original features. It was built in 1752 as a town house for George Smith, grandson of the founder of Smith's Bank, the oldest known provincial bank in the United Kingdom. In 1929 Evans, Clark and Woollatt added a new doorway and frontage, allowing the ground floor to be converted for retail use.[3]

In the first-floor 'Standfast Library' is a Meridian Line, dating from 1836 and used to set clocks to Noon 'local' time in the days before Railway time or Greenwich Mean Time was introduced as the British standard. The longcase clock in the room is still set to Nottingham time, 4 minutes and 33 seconds slower than Greenwich.

In the attics, Alfred Barber opened the first photographic studio in the Midlands on 2 October 1841.[4]


The Nottingham Subscription Library was founded on 1 April 1816 at Carlton Street.[5] In April 1820, Bromley House was offered for sale by auction and purchased by the library for £2,750 (equivalent to £201,732 in 2016).[6] The library moved in in 1825.[5]

In the 19th century the library had around one hundred subscribers, including George Green and Edward Bromhead. Historically, the first name on the list of subscribers was the Duke of Newcastle as Lord Lieutenant of the county.

Library services[edit]

A view of the main room. The spiral staircase is unusual in that it has no central supporting column.

As of January 2015 the library has over 1,300 members who pay an annual subscription. Items on loan are still recorded using a manual ledger system where each member has their own page. The library has a stock of over 40,000 books (expanding by 700-800 each year) which includes a good selection of interest to local historians, and a wide selection of 19th and 20th century novels. It also contains more modern items such as audiobooks and CDs. The Heritage Lottery Fund contributed towards a project to create the library's computer catalogue 'Bromcat'. This involved a team of staff and volunteers cataloguing the entire contents over a two-year period, completing the work in 2013.


  • William Hardy 1816 – 1819
  • Valentine Kirk 1819 – 1820
  • James Archer 1820 – 1834
  • John Walton 1834 – 1857
  • Count Ubaldo Marioni 1857 – 1865
  • John Cummings Banwell 1867 – 1893
  • J William Moore 1893 – 1899
  • Arthur Lineker 1899 – 1926[7]

Further reading[edit]

  • Corbett, Jane Y. (1991). Coope, Rosalys T., ed. Bromley House 1752-1991: four essays celebrating the 175th anniversary of the foundation of The Nottingham Subscription Library. Nottingham Subscription Library. ISBN 0-9517499-0-0. 


  1. ^ Shoker, Sandish (10 April 2016). "The fall and rise of subscription libraries". BBC News Online. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  2. ^ Historic England. "ANGEL ROW Nos.13, 14 AND 15 Bromley House (1246247)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Harwood, Elain (1979). Pevsner Architectural Guides. Nottinghamshire. Yale University Press. p. 59. ISBN 0140710027. 
  4. ^ Heathcote, Pauline; Heathcote, Bernard (2002). A faithful likeness: the first photographic portrait studios in the British Isles, 1841 to 1855. Lowdham: self-published. ISBN 0954193407. 
  5. ^ a b "Bromley House Library, One Hundred Years Old To-Day". Nottingham Evening Post. 1 April 1916. Retrieved 9 September 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 6 November 2017. 
  7. ^ "Bromley House Library Librarians 1819-1927". Bromley House Library. 25 August 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 

Coordinates: 52°57′13″N 1°09′09″W / 52.9536°N 1.1524°W / 52.9536; -1.1524