Ipswich: English Heritage list 1940s Westbourne Library
10:50 13 November 2012
A LIBRARY that was under threat of closure just two years ago has now got an even more secure future after its building was listed by English Heritage.
Westbourne Library in Sherrington Road has been given Grade Two listed status – joining its neighbour, Broomhill Pool, on the list of important buildings.
The library was built in 1942 as an air raid shelter and gas decontamination building, being converted into a library after the war in 1947.
Its listing was backed by the 20th Century Society, and was welcomed by the Broomhill Trust which is campaigning for the restoration of the lido and the development of the area as a community hub.
Mark Ling from the Trust said: “This is a unique accolade for Ipswich and its Broomhill area. It represents an acknowledgement of the area’s extraordinary – and now celebrated – late 1930/early 1940s municipal architecture. “Both buildings have served their community for over 70 years, both remain immensely practical and are valued by Ipswich residents today.”
Westbourne Library Friends chairman Garath Jones added: “Both facilities had a significant role to play during world war two.
“Westbourne Library is absolutely unique in being the country’s only library originally built as a bomb-proof, decontamination unit and public shelter.
“Broomhill lido provided important, moral boosting leisure during the war and was also used by the National Fire Service as an emergency source of water to put out incendiary fires in NW Ipswich.
“The Westbourne Library Friends would like to thank the Twentieth Century Society for their support is this successful application, and to English Heritage for this prestigious endorsement for our library.”
The future of the library had been under threat when the county council drew up its initial plans to restructure the library service, but after a change in policy at Suffolk and the establishment of the Friends of Westbourne Library its future is now assured.
n Is the listing justified? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org