Minet Library

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Minet Library
Minet Library in summer 2.jpg
Minet Library
CountryUnited Kingdom
TypePublic library
Established1890 (129 years ago) (1890)
LocationKnatchbull Road
London, SE5
Items collectedBooks, public records, photographs
Lambeth Archives
Access and use
Access requirementsOpen - Lambeth Archives
Closed - public library

The Minet Library is a public library in the London Borough of Lambeth in South London. The library opened in 1890 and closed as a public lending library in 2016 as a result of cuts to funding.

The building is home to Lambeth Archives, which remains open to users.


The Minet Library was built by William Minet and opened in 1890. Minet was a descendant of French Huguenots who immigrated to London in the 1700s, and 1889 he also gave 14½ acres of land to the London County Council to create Myatt's Fields Park.[1]

The library was designed to be a church hall for St. James The Apostle on Knatchbull Road and to be used by the tenants of the local estate. When Minet's first wife, Alice Evans, died in 1887 before the building was completed, he decided to turn it into a public library in her memory.[2][1]

The library might have been completed before the nearby Durning Library and South Lambeth Tate Library, but was interrupted when the contractor went bankrupt, Minet was interested in the co-operative movement and decided to form a private company on co-operative lines. The experiment was successful and the library, which was designed by George Hubbard who also designed nearby Longfield Hall, was finished and opened in 1890.[1]

Hubbard's octagonal library building, in the Gothic Revival style, was partially destroyed by an incendiary bomb on 8 December 1940 during The Blitz. The fire destroyed 18,585 books. Around 6,700 books were salvaged, and half of those were moved to Longfield Hall were a temporary library was established.[3] The Surrey Collection, a collection of archive records established by William Minet, survived the fire because they were housed in a strong room.[4]

Minet Library around 1890

The library was rebuilt in 1956 and became part of the London Borough of Lambeth public library service and official home of the Lambeth Archives.[5]

The closure of Minet Library[edit]

In the late 1990s, the library began to suffer from cuts to local council funding, and Lambeth Council proposed closing the library on a number of occasions. This culminated in 2015 with Lambeth Council closing the library (but not the archive) and proposing to contract Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) to convert part of the building into a gym, with a limited library service continuing to operate.[6]

The magazine Private Eye reported in May 2017 that Lambeth Council had begun talking to GLL about contracting them to turn Minet Library and others in the borough into gyms before a plan by library staff and local residents to save the libraries was rejected in 2015.[7]

In May 2016 the Minet Library was closed by the Lambeth Council and remains inactive.[8][9] Lambeth Council's website states that "The future range of activities that will be delivered in the Minet building will be decided once the Archives' future is clearer, so the best use of the whole building can be considered. The library reopened in 2017."[10] However the service has been reduced following its reopening.[11]

Lambeth Archives and the local history reference collection remains open to the public until a new home can be found.


  1. ^ a b c "Myatt's Fields, Denmark Hill and Herne Hill: Introduction and Myatt's Fields area | British History Online". www.british-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Local History: Libraries". Oval Partnership. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Minet Library Bomb Damage, Knatchbull Road, Brixton North". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Spotlight on Minet Library". Brixton Blog. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  5. ^ Foster, Janet; Sheppard, Julia (1995). British Archives: A Guide to Archive Resources in the United Kingdom. Springer. ISBN 9781349118120.
  6. ^ "Lambeth Council proposes to sell Minet Library". Brixton Blog. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Lambeth library campaigners rally against Lambeth council at lively public meeting". Brixton Buzz news, features and listings for Brixton, London. 3 May 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Protesters occupy Lambeth library in bid to halt closure". BBC News. 1 April 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  9. ^ Walker, Peter (31 March 2016). "Lambeth library plans condemned as 'absolute shambles'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  10. ^ "What is happening to Lambeth's libraries? | Lambeth Council". www.lambeth.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-19.
  11. ^ "Carnegie library opens some of its doors again". Brixton Blog. 2018-02-15. Retrieved 2018-07-19.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°28′17″N 0°06′19″W / 51.4714°N 0.1052°W / 51.4714; -0.1052