Rooflights and patent glazing

Ayr Library Reference room, 1893 – Architects: Campbell Douglas & Morrison

Patent glazing designs developed at a rapid pace at the turn of the twentieth century. There was huge demand for public places where extensive artificial illumination was unaffordable; for railway stations, markets, arcades, galleries and museums etc. They were also widely used in libraries for larger areas of roof glazing in line with the pitched roofs. These were often concealed by an inner translucent but not transparent glass ceiling such as those at Ayr library shown above.

Advertisement for Braby Patent Glazing The engineers’ and surveyors’ compendium and diary. 1899. London, Compendium Publishing & Advertising Co. p.37

The potential for leaking is highlighted by the claim in this advertisement. Mellowes and Co.’s patent “Eclipse” roof glazing claimed to be “The only Absolutely Imperishable Glazing Unaffected by any atmospheric action”, “No maintenance or painting required”[1]. Many libraries have since covered over their skylights since such promises proved to be unfounded. Nevertheless, our research has identified 135 open libraries that still have them.

Lantern lights at Earlsdon, Coventry – 1913 Designed by J.E. Swindlehurst (City Engineer and Surveyor)

Lantern lights, on the other hand, which also feature in many libraries, would not necessarily use patent components. Although the designs were effectively standards, they would be framed and constructed as bespoke carpentry items as shown in the suggested schedule below from Building World; “SETTING OUT LANTERN LIGHT WITH FRAMED LININGS”. The suggested materials specified are as follows: “The sills are of English oak or teak, the panels of American whitewood, the rest of the work being of yellow deal, free from sap.”[2]

SETTING OUT LANTERN LIGHT WITH FRAMED LININGS Richardson, W. (1895). Building World. London, Printed and published by Cassell & Company Limited. No. 598 – March 30, 1907

These lanterns were designed to be set into flat roofs, as shown below. Acknowledging the potential vulnerability of low pitched roofs, Henry Adams accompanying note comments that these are usually covered in lead although Ruberoid and asphalt were emerging as cheaper alternatives, he opines that they would not be “so long-lasting”.

Roofing a Public Billiard Room, By Henry Adams (no. 350) Richardson, W. (1895). Building world. London, Printed and published by Cassell & Company Limited. No. 540 – February 17, 1906. P. 315.

Listed below are the open Carnegie libraries that our research has found still to feature rooflights or skylights. Bearing in mind the challenge of maintaining these features a century after they were built, the heritage status of each building is noted as well as the management organisation at the time of the survey.

Library nameDateDesigned byHeritage statusPostcodeManaged by
Abergavenny Library1906B.J. FrancisLG IINP7 5BDcouncil 
Airdrie “new” Library 1925John Maurice ArthurCat CML6 0AGcouncil 
Almondbury Library1906K.F. Campbell (Borough Engineer)none.HD5 8XBcouncil 
Annfield Plain Library1908Edward CratneyLG IIDH9 8EZcouncil 
Arbroath Academy and Public Library1898James BlackCat BDD11 1AHcouncil 
Ashton in Makerfield Library1906J. B. & W. ThornleyLG IIWN4 9BHcouncil 
Ayr Carnegie Library 1893Campbell Douglas & MorrisonCat BKA8 8EBcouncil 
Bangor Public Library1907Dixon & Potternone.LL57 1DTcouncil 
Barrow in Furness Library1922Alderman John CharlesLG IILA14 1LLcouncil 
Bideford Library and Museum1906A.J. DunnLG IIEX39 2HRagency for council
Birmingham – Erdington Library1907John P. OsborneLG IIB24 9HPcouncil 
Birmingham – Kings Heath (Moseley) Library1906Arthur Gilbey LathamLG IIB14 7SWcouncil 
Birmingham – Kings Norton Library1906Benjamin Bowernone.B30 3EUcouncil 
Birmingham – Stirchley Library1907John P. OsborneLG IIB30 2JTcouncil 
Blackpool Central Library1911Alex Cullen, Lochhead & BrownLG IIFY1 1PXcouncil 
Bournemouth – Springbourne Public Library1909Harry E. Hawker & Victor Mitchellnone.BH8 8BXcouncil 
Bridgwater Library1906Ernest Godfrey PageLG IITA6 3LFcouncil 
Burnley Library 1930George Hartley and Arthur Race (Borough Engineer)LG IIBB11 2BDcouncil 
Cardiff – Canton Library1907Edwin Montgomery Bruce VaughanLG IICF5 1QDcouncil 
Cardiff – Cathays Library1907Speir & BevanLG II*CF24 4PWcouncil 
Caversham Free Public Library (one of 2 branches for Reading)1907W.G. LewtonLG IIRG4 8AUcouncil 
Clackmannan1903Ebenezer Simpsonnone.FK10 4JAcouncil 
Clapton Public Library1913Sir Thomas Edwin CooperLG IIE5 8RAcouncil 
Clitheroe Library  1905S. Butterworth & W.H. DuncanLG IIBB7 2DGcouncil 
Clydebank Library1913Alexander McInnes Gardner & Robert WhyteCat BG81 1XHcouncil 
Coventry – Earlsdon Library1913J.E. Swindlehurst (City Engineer and Surveyor) none.CV5 6FZcommunity 
Coventry – Foleshill Library1913J.E. Swindlehurst (City Engineer and Surveyor) none.CV6 5BGcouncil 
Crofton Park Library  and Re-Use centre1905Albert L. Guynone.SE4 2AGcommunity 
Cromarty Library (Hugh Miller Institute)1904Alexander Ross & Robert John MacbethCat CIV11 8XAcouncil 
Cubitt Town Library1905Charles Harold NortonLG IIE14 3HGcouncil 
Custom House Library1905John G. Morley (Borough Engineer)none.E16 3JJcouncil 
Dartford Central Library & Museum1916Thomas Edward Tiffin (Town Surveyor)LG IIDA1 1EUcouncil 
Darwen Library and Theatre1908Fred Harrison & Charles Spencer HaywoodLG IIBB3 3BUcouncil 
Dumbarton Library1910William Reidnone.G82 1BDcouncil 
Dundee – Coldside Library 1908James  Thomson & Frank Drummon ThomsonCat ADD3 7SEcouncil 
Eccles Gateway1907Edward Potts (Potts Son & Hennings)LG IIM30 0TUcouncil 
Edinburgh – Corstorphine Library1904Ebenezer James MacRaeCat CEH12 7HDcouncil 
Edinburgh Central Library 1890Sir George Washington BrowneCat AEH1 1EGcouncil 
Eltham Central Library (Woolwich)1906Maurice Bingham AdamsLG IISE9 1HAagency for council
Ewart Library (Dumfries)1904Alan B. CrombieCat BDG1 1JBcouncil 
Falkirk Community Trust Library1902McCarthy and WatsonCat BFK1 5AUagency for council
Fraserburgh Library1905William Stephen Fergusson Wilsonnone.AB43 9PNcouncil 
Fratton Carnegie Library (Portsmouth)1906George Rake & Arthur Edward CogswellLG IIPO1 5EZcouncil 
Fulham Central Library1909Henry Thomas HareLG IISW6 5NXcouncil 
Gainsborough Library1905H.G. GambleLG IIDN21 2NGagency for council
Gateshead Central Library1926David William Ditchburnnone.NE8 4LNcouncil 
Glasgow – Dennistoun Library & Learning Centre1905James Robert RhindCat BG31 2NAcouncil 
Glasgow – Langside Library1915George SimpsonCat BG42 9QEcouncil 
Glasgow – Maryhill Library1905James Robert RhindCat BG20 9ADcouncil 
Glasgow – Parkhead Library 1906James Robert RhindCat BG31 4XAcouncil 
Glasgow – Partick Library1926Office of Public WorksCat CG11 6ABcouncil 
Glasgow – Pollokshields Library1907Thomas Gilchrist Gilmour revised by Alexander Beith McDonaldCat BG41 2TEcouncil 
Glasgow – Possilpark Library 1913George SimpsonCat BG22 5JJcouncil 
Glasgow – Woodside District Library1905James Robert RhindCat BG3 6JQcouncil 
Grangemouth Victoria Library1889William Black none.FK3 8AGagency for council
Gravesend Library1905Edmund John  BennettLG IIDA12 1AQcouncil 
Greenock Central Library1902Mr.Matheson (original), Works managed by burgh electrical engineer, Mr WM Nelson and Master of Works – Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette – Friday 15 March 1901none.PA15 1JBcouncil 
Hamilton 1914Alex Cullen, Lochhead & BrownCat BML3 6HHcouncil 
Hammersmith Library1905Henry Thomas HareLG IIW6 7ATcouncil 
Hanwell Library1905T. Gibbs Thomasnone.W7 3HLcouncil 
Hawick Library1904J. Nicholl Scott  and Alexander Lorne CampbellCat BTD9 9QTagency for council
Heywood Library 1906North & RobinLG IIOL10 1LLcouncil 
Highgate Library (Hampstead)1906William Nisbet Blair (Borough Engineer)LG IIN19 5DHcouncil 
Ilkeston Library1904Hunter and Woodhouse  LG IIDE7 5RNcouncil 
Ilkley Library 1907William BakewellLG IILS29 8HAcouncil 
Ipswich County Library1924Henry Munro CautleyLG IIIP1 3DEcouncil 
Islington Central Library1907Henry Thomas HareLG IIN5 1PFcouncil 
Jedburgh Library1900John More Dick Peddie & Sir George Washington BrowneCat BTD8 6ASagency for council
Keighley Library1904Arthur Ernest McKewan & James Arthur Swan LG IIBD21 3SHcouncil 
Kendal library1909T.F. PenningtonLG IILA9 4PYcouncil 
Kettering Library1904J. Goddard, A.H. Paget & W.A. CatlowLG IINN16 0AYcouncil 
Kilburn Library 1907Mr G.A. Sexton (Original building by Edmeston & Gabriel in 1894)none.NW6 6NNcouncil 
King’s Lynn Library1905Herbert John GreenLG IIPE30 5EZcouncil 
Kingston-upon-Thames Public Library (Museum and Art Gallery)1903Alfred CoxLG IIKT1 2PScouncil 
Lambeth Herne Hill  Carnegie Library1906H. Wakeford & SonsLG IISE24 0AGcouncil 
Lea Bridge Library1906William JacquesLG IIE10 7HUcouncil 
Leeds – Bramley Library1927George Herbert Foggitt & J. Addisonnone.LS13 3NDcouncil 
Leeds – Morley Library1906W.E. Putman (Borough Engineer)LG IILS27 8HZcouncil 
Leicester Central  Library1905Edward BurgessLG IILE1 6AAcouncil 
Lincoln Central Library1914Sir Reginald Theodore BlomfieldLG IILN2 1EZagency for council
Littleborough Library 1903S. Butterworth & W.H. Duncannone.OL15 9HEcouncil 
Littlehampton Library1906Harry Howardnone.BN17 5NAcouncil 
Liverpool – Garston Library1909Thomas  Shelmerdine (Corporation Architect and Surveyor)LG IIL19 1QNcouncil 
Liverpool – Old Swan Library1913Thomas  Shelmerdine (Corporation Architect and Surveyor)none.L13 5XGcouncil 
Liverpool – Sefton Park Library1911Thomas  Shelmerdine (Corporation Architect and Surveyor)LG IIL17 4JScouncil 
Liverpool – Toxteth Library (South-end)1902Thomas  Shelmerdine (Corporation Architect and Surveyor)LG IIL8 1XFcouncil 
Long Eaton Library 1906Child, Gorman and RossLG IING10 1JGcouncil 
Loughborough Library1905Barrowcliff & AllcockLG IILE11 3DZcouncil 
Malvern Library1906Henry Arthur CrouchLG IIWR14 2HUcouncil 
Manchester – Didsbury Library 1915Henry Price (City Architect)LG IIM20 2DNcouncil 
Manchester – Failsworth Library 1909Ernest Ogden & Percy Cartwright Hoynone.M35 0AEcouncil 
Manchester – Radcliffe library 1907Henry Lordnone.M26 1WRcouncil 
Merthyr Tydfil – Dowlais Library1907E. A. JohnsonLG IICF48 3HScouncil 
Middlesbrough Central Library1912Sir Thomas Edwin CooperLG IITS1 2AYcouncil 
Mile End Central Library (Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives) Stepney1906James Knight originally 1862, Extension by MW Jameson, Borough SurveyorLG IIE1 4DQcouncil 
Milnrow Library 1908S. Butterworth & W.H. DuncanLG IIOL16 3NPcouncil 
Motherwell1906Greig, Fairbairn & MacnivenCat BML1 3BZcouncil 
Neston Library 1907Green Knowles & Russellnone.CH64 6QEcouncil 
Newton-le-Willows Library (Newton in Makerfield)(Earlestown)1909J. Myrtle Smithnone.WA12 9TXcouncil 
Northamptonshire Central Library1910Herbert Norman  LG IINN1 2BAcouncil 
Nottingham – Basford Branch Library Nottingham Journal – Tuesday 24 August 19151926Ernest R. Sutton & Sonsnone.NG6 0ARcouncil 
Nottingham – Meadows  Southern Branch Library1925Arthur Dale City Engineer’s Office)none.NG2 2DRcouncil 
Nottingham – Radford Lenton Library1926T.Wallis Gordon (City Engineer)none.NG7 2BYcouncil 
Oswaldtwistle Carnegie Library1915Frank Quentery Farmernone.BB5 3HScouncil 
Peebles Library 1912Cat AEH45 8AGagency for council
Penarth Library1905Harry SnellLG IICF64 2YTcouncil 
Plumstead Public Library1904Frank Sumner (Borough Surveyor)LG IISE18 1JLagency for council
Prestonpans Library1905P. Whitecross & James Pearson Alison  Cat BEH32 9NXcouncil 
Rawtenstall Library1906Crouch Butler & SavageLG IIBB4 6QUcouncil 
Royton Library 1907S. Butterworth & W.H. Duncannone.OL2 6QJcouncil 
Rushden Library1905William Beresford Madin (Town Surveyor)none.NN10 0PTcouncil 
Rutherglen 1907George Sinclair and John Ballantine  Cat BG73 2HBcouncil 
Sandwell – Cradley Heath Library (Rowley Regis)1909Herbert Winkler Wills and John AndersonLG IIB64 5JUcouncil 
Sandwell – Langley Green Library (Oldbury & Langley)1909Abel Roundnone.B68 8QTcouncil 
Sandwell – Wednesbury Library1908Crouch Butler and SavageLG IIWS10 9EHcouncil 
Sandwell – West Bromwich Central Library1907Stephen James HollidayLG IIB70 8DZcouncil 
Stamford Library1906Alfred George Hall & John Henry Arthur PhillipsLG IIPE9 2BBcouncil 
Stirling1904Henry ‘Harry’ Ramsay TaylorCat BFK8 2HXcouncil 
Stoke Newington Library1904H.H. Bridgman & Goss (originally 1892)LG IIN16 0JScouncil 
Stratford-upon-Avon Library1903Edward Gibbs HoltomLG IICV37 6PZcouncil 
Sunderland – Hendon Carnegie Library1908Edward Cratneynone.SR2 8JGcommunity 
Sunderland – Kayll Road West Branch Library 1909Hugh Taylor Decimus HedleyLG IISR4 7TWcommunity 
Sydenham  Library 1904Albert L. Guynone.SE26 5SEcommunity 
Teddington Library1906Henry Arthur CheersLG IITW11 8NYcouncil 
Thornton Heath Library (Croydon)1914Eric Edwin Hodder & G.F. Carter none.CR7 7JBcouncil 
Walkley Library1905William Frederick Hemsoll & Henry Leslie PatersonLG IIS6 3TD community 
Wallasey (Liscard) Central Library1911R.B. MacColl & George Edward Tongenone.CH45 5DXcouncil 
Walthamstow Central Library1909J.Williams DunfordLG IIE17 7JNcouncil 
West Calder Library1904William BaillieCat BEH55 8DRcouncil 
West Greenwich Library1907Herbert Winkler Wills and John AndersonLG IISE10 8NNagency for council
Whitehaven Library1906Greig, Fairbairn & Macnivennone.CA28 7QTcouncil 
Willesden Green Library1907A.H. Murray Rustnone.NW10 2SFcouncil 
Wolverhampton Library1902Henry Thomas HareLG II*WV1 3AXcouncil 
Wombwell Library 1907Arthur  B. Linfordnone.S73 0BAcouncil 
York Central Library 1927Brierley and RutherfordLG IIYO1 7DScouncil 

[1] Advertisement for Mellowe’s Eclipse Patent Glazing The engineers’ and surveyors’ compendium and diary. 1899. London, Compendium Publishing & Advertising Co. p.4

[2] Extract from: Richardson, W. (1895). Building world. London, Printed and published by Cassell & Company Limited. No. 598 – March 30, 1907 p.410