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Shouting from the rooftop

Larry Neild takes a sneak peek at the new Central Library

Written by . Published on September 5th 2012.


Shouting from the rooftop

FORGET books in print and electronic formats,  the star of Liverpool’s new look Central Library will be the roof.

As part of a £50m makeover, a stunning rooftop terrace has been created, giving visitors a spectacular bird’s eye view across the city.

More than 70ft above William Brown Street, the terrace could become one of the city’s favourite gathering places when the library reopens next spring.

The terrace will even be wi-fi enabled, to allow library users to work on laptops up on the roof.

Mayor Joe Anderson, Mayor Sharon Sullivan and Culture Cabinet Member Cllr Wendy Simon were among the first to be given a sneak preview of the roof terrace when a traditional topping out ceremony was held. The ceremony marks the completion of the highest point of the building. Liverpool Confidential was also present.

New on the roof is a 1,880sq ft glass dome, 26 metres above ground level.

Lord Mayor Sharon Sullivan, Mayor Joe AndersonLord Mayor Sharon Sullivan and Mayor Joe Anderson survey their fifedom

Inside, the new look library is rapidly taking shape. The 1950s Brown Library, built in 1950s after the original was wrecked by Hitler’s bombers, has been demolished along with a 1978 extension.

Nearing completion is a new building behind the original listed historic façade. Final fittings and fixtures are being installed in the Picton and Hornby libraries, the Oak Room and the Clayton Stack.

In the Picton Reading Room, the intricate, domed ceiling has been painstakingly restored and all the timber bookcases repaired. Thousands of hours of work have also gone in to matching plaster and paint as close to the originals used when the dome was built in 1875.

Finishing touches are also being made to the main library room, ramps in the children’s library are being installed and landscaping outside the building is also taking place.

A new literary wall is in place and can be seen at the back, and the ground is currently being prepared at the front of the venue for the installation of the literary pavement – a 22 metre long, 4.5 meter wide walkway which will have engraved on it titles from world books, cinema and music, selected by local people.

Up on the roofUp on the roof

Mayor Anderson said: "This is a massive project taking place in one of the most significant and prominent libraries in the country.

"Central Library is one of the city’s jewels and it’s wonderful to be able to see changes taking shape and start to get a sense of how wonderful the final result is going to be.

"This redevelopment is also a major landmark for William Brown Street as a whole as Central Library is the final building to be restored and rebuilt in the area – making it one of the finest historic cultural quarters in the UK."

Main contractor Shepherd Construction is responsible for the building work including the full restoration of the Grade II listed parts of the building, which date back to 1860, and the famous Hornby Library and Oak Reading Rooms which will be fully open to the public for the first time.

Throwing in the trowelThrowing in the trowelThe revamped Central Library will also include a new home for the Liverpool Record Office which will house 14km of archives and some of the city’s most historic treasures from the last 800 years - such as the original 1207 charter signed by King John - in purpose built, secure, climate-controlled storage.

The work is being carried out by the Inspire Partnership, which is a joint venture between Amber Infrastructure and Shepherd Construction, with architects at Austin-Smith:Lord and Cofely as providers of facilities management services.

Mike Leto, from the Inspire Partnership, commented: "Today marks an important landmark in the reconstruction and restoration of this fantastic facility. The successful renovation reflects many years of endeavour and an exemplary example of how public private partnerships can provide solutions to create, restore and enhance facilities for the community of Liverpool and beyond."

For the city’s libraries supremo, Joyce Little, the new Central Library will create a world class facility for Liverpool.

Starting as a librarian in Old Swan Library to become head of libraries, she has seen a number of new facilities built across Liverpool.

Asked for her opinion of the views from the roof terrace Joyce Little said: "Stunning. This is going to be a popular venue when it opens."

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

BookwormSeptember 9th 2012.

Full of noise and few books I suppose?

Slightly FoxedSeptember 9th 2012.

With so much of the Central Library's building being demolished, how many books will have been lost? How many desks for readers to use for study will have been lost? What efforts have been made to restore what was described as the finest music library outside London before it was destroyed by the philistine Storey and his Lib-Dem administration?

Is the new building to be a library for people to study in or an attraction for slack-jawed, cooing sightseers to noisily shuffle through with no intention of reading any books?

AnonymousSeptember 9th 2012.

And once again, with typical predictably, the whinging miseries who post on here start griping about investment in the city before the door has been opened!

I don't think they'll be happy until Fritz and Ludwig come back in their Fokkers and reduce the place to rubble! Just like in the old days!

Slightly FoxedSeptember 9th 2012.

Your ignorance of Fokkers exposes your mischievous, empty posturing.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 10th 2012.

And your pompous tone indicates a total sense of humour failure. The name was used for it's slightly comic effect see, I'm aware that Fokker did not make a bomber, but Heinkel didn't sound the same

Also tend to suspect ever so slightly that you missed the point

BigglesSeptember 11th 2012.

Ahem! The library was bombed the 1939-45 war, whereas the Fokker aircraft company had been a DUTCH manufacturer of civilian aircraft since 1918.
Fokker was dealt with specifically in the Treaty od Versailles.

D. HavillandSeptember 11th 2012.

Anonymous is Stan Boardman and I claim my £5...

AnonymousSeptember 10th 2012.

Fokkers, heinkels who cares.......buts he's right ole fox, you is still whinging aincha

AnonymousSeptember 10th 2012.

Anon, so this is what over paid council employees get up to when they're bored is it?

Slightly FoxedSeptember 10th 2012.

It's fairly obvious that Anonymous has never been in a library in his life.

Barry WilkinsonOctober 31st 2012.

Looks fantastic..cant wait for it to open..just another JEWEL in Liverpools crown. Maybe some of you can visit Lpool one day and 'pop in' here..update your history on WW2 and 'Bombers' etc.

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