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  • Dalton Public Library is a building of special architectural and historic content – Listed Grade 2 under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservations Areas) Act 1990.
  • Formally called The Old Carnegie Free Library it is situated in Nelson Street, LA15 8AF.
  • Building started 10th August 1903 and was completed March 1905.
  • The Opening of the Library took place Saturday 30th June 1905.

*All Dalton Heritage Trail artworks** including the logo, leaflet, map, signage art, films and photographs are copyrighted to the artist Rachel Capovila and Barrowfull. Permissions are granted for the use of the Dalton Heritage Trail and educational resources relating to the trail ONLY under the administration of DACH. Any other use or reproduction must have permissions from the artist.

**Except where stated and the copyright remains with the named eg photographer or writer.

Photo: Old Library on Nelson Street – Ron Creer

From the Library Building Committee minutes:

7th November 1902 – Dalton Library Sites Committee                          

W M Robinson – Chairman, W G Ashburner, George Donald, T M Kay, John Wharton – reported that ‘the appeal to source land to build the library upon did not evoke any practical response.’ They then approached the Dalton Cooperative Society who agreed to sell them a plot of land on Nelson Street measuring 51 feet 10 inches by 80 feet. Dr Cross offered to purchase the land with a view to presenting a portion of it to the town for the purpose of building the new Public Library.

Public library site and appeal 14th September 1903:

Reported that a gift of £3,500 from Mr Carnegie in America has been put forward with the condition that the money is used to ‘…build and furnish the library’ and not to pay for the land that it is built upon.  A suitable site was found in the town centre and estimated cost of £400.

The committee appealed to local businesses such as various mining and iron industries, royalty owners, landowners, employers of labour, persons of wealth and position.

Central Library Committee meeting 19th June 1905:

  • Appointment of Librarian Mr J W Connor.
  • Central Library Opening Saturday 30th June 1905 – Dr Cross and Mr James Dickinson willingness to accede the invitation of the committee to the opening ceremony.

In 1904, rules in place at the library’s lending department included the cost of a borrowers card for books, at just one pence.  Furthermore, at the time books were not permitted to be borrowed by anyone employed or residing in an area where infectious disease was reported or suspected.

From the Evening Mail – May 1919

Mr Clark Strickland, 41 years old, was appointed as the new librarian. A former iron ore miner at Cleator Moor, he entered the employ of Dalton council on the 4th December 1914 as a lamplighter.

He was born at Askam and is a great lover of music, conductor of the Primitive Methodist Choir, Dalton and actively associated with the Dalton Rose Festival Committee.

The library successfully continued for many years. The southern section of Cumbria County Council’s School Library Service was based upstairs for many years where they held talks by authors as well as lending books to teachers and school librarians. In the 1980s the building was very busy with lots of activities, especially for young people. In 2001 the library was temporarily closed for an refurbishment including the provision of a suite of computers for public use.

Then, in 2005 Dalton Learning Centre was opened in the library. Things were looking up. However, this did not last as footfall started dropping and staff cuts led to reduced opening hours, a vicious circle.

In 2016 it was decided that the old library should be closed and library services transferred across the road to a small room inside Dalton Community Centre. The old building was sold off and is now Carnegie Court apartments.

The Benefactor Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland. His family emigrated to New York at the age of 13 where he went to work in a mill as a bobbin boy. A wealthy neighbour, Colonel James Anderson, allowed working boys to use his personal library for free where Andrews’s love of reading evolved.

Andrew later worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad company as a messenger and by the age of 24 progressed to the position of Superintendent.  He bought ten shares in the “Adams Express Co” which proved to be a turning point in his career and by the age of 30 he had business interests in Ironworks, Steamers on the Great Lakes, Railroads and Oil Wells.

The Carnegie Steel Corporation was the largest manufacture of steel and eventually he became one of the richest men in the world.

Andrew believed in wealthy people giving some of their wealth back to the less fortunate in society. He retired at 66 years old in 1901 and became Philanthropist donating money to towns and cities in America and the United Kingdom building over 2000 Public Libraries, at a cost of $125 million. Andrew set up the Carnegie Corporation to aid Universities, Colleges and Schools.

With thanks to Tracy Garnett for her research

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Dalton is the ancient and historic capital of Furness and has approximately 8,000 residents at the current time. Ideally located less than thirty miles from the Lake District and close to the Irish Sea coast and nature reserves, Dalton is home to one of the Counties largest tourist attractions, South Lakes Wild Animal Park.