157 London Road

Opened in 1933. Built by Joseph Owen’s Tamworth Park Construction Co., architects were Chart, Son and Reading.

From the Mitcham News and Mercury, 21st April, 1933:


The Last Word in Structure and Equipment

Following close upon the opening of the new Mitcham Swimming Baths, another notable public event is near at hand. The new public library is now practically completed, and will be ready for opening as soon as Mrs Joseph Owen returns with her husband from their Egyptian tour. They are due back on May 5, and the opening ceremony is to be performed as soon as possible after that date.

The exterior of the building is finished, and the internal arrangements are being pushed forward with all speed. It will be the last word in structure and equipment.

The thanks of Mitcham inhabitants are due largely to Mr Joseph Owen, “The Pentlands”, St George’s Road, Mitcham, for the handsome library. He started the project by generously giving the land for the site, following up this by contributing handsomely towards the cost of building the library. As managing director of Tamworth Park Construction Co., who have erected the magnificent structure, Mr Owen has practically given his services as clerk of works under the direction of the architects, Messrs. Chart, Son and Reading, of Mitcham.

This week one of our representatives was conducted over the building, and the details were fully explained. As most people are aware, the library abuts on London Road, opposite Holborn Schools, and is quite close to the new baths, and also to the new super-cinema now in course of erection.

The building is 60 feet wide by 66 feet long. The front part consists of two stories, with a flat above the librarian, also the lending library and newspaper room. The rear portion is a one-story building, comprising a part of the lending library, the librarian’s office and reference department. A balcony extends right round the reference library for the purpose of storing the volumes. The reference library itself is 36 feet by 25 feet, and the lending library 66 feet by 25 feet. The latter also embraces a junior library or juvenile section.

Multi-coloured brick with stone facings is observed throughout the building materials. Over the main entrance are the words, “Mitcham Public Library” nearly carved in stone work, with stone cornice. Three steps lead to the approach, and two pillars are conspicuous, with high railings as a frontage.


The doors of the library are of Austrian Oak, with handsome patent glazings. On the right hand side of the entrance hall provision has been made for a large oak notice board and and electric clock. The newspaper room, 20 feet by 17 feet, is on the left of the vestibule.

On the right, proceeding down the hall, is the lending library, and the space for the attendant is so and adroitly arranged as to command a view of the entire room. The librarian’s private office is here, and on the left the reference library. A feature of the latter section is the names of various cathedral cities on raised panels, worked in gilt letters on the sides of the skylights.

The decoration scheme throughout use old ivory colouring, the walls in the hall being neatly panelled. A distinctive feature of the furnishings is that of Austrian Oak. Electrically lighted, with the most modern heating arrangements, the library is up to date in every respect.


Mr. K.G. Hunt, the librarian appointed by the Mitcham Urban District Council, is very proud of the new building, as is it embraces the very latest ideas to please the users as well as the staff. No detail has been overlooked to make it perfect, and the arrangements are the last word in library buildings.

The Dewey decimal system of classification has been adopted.

“The work of preparing the library has gone forward in two stages,” said Mr Hunt. “Stage one, consisting of supervision of installation of fittings, purchase of miscellaneous requirements, book selection, and creation of administrative and filing machinery. Stage two, ordering and preparations of books for issue, installation of books on shelves, preparation of typewritten catalogues, etc., with the appointment of staff gradually as the developments of the work progressed.”

The initial stock of the new library consists of:

Lending Department, 10,000 volumes, estimated cost £2,250;

Reference department, 1,500 volumes, estimated cost, £750;

Junior department, 1,000 volumes, estimated cost £200;

Total, £3,200.

“I hope as soon as the library is opened,” added Mr Hunt, “to get into touch with all the local societies of an educational character, and also to go gather material for historical records of Mitcham.”

Most popular books in 1937

Merton Memories Photos

1937 staff
1966 when extension built
1966 view from Armfield Crescent

Aerial Photos

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