Published on

13 May 2024

Community celebrates a century of Wargrave Library

When the library first opened in April 1924, it had a supply of only 100 books and now it has more than 5,600 items

Wargrave Library 100th anniversary

Villagers and volunteers came together for a day of celebration at Wargrave Library to mark 100 years of serving the community.

Activities were held throughout the day at the library, which is part of Woodclyffe Hostel in Church Street, on Wednesday 1 May.

The momentous day started with a celebratory coffee morning. This was due to run from 10am to 12 noon, but was so well received by the community that it continued into the early afternoon. Residents, volunteers and former staff shared memories and enjoyed refreshments and cake.

There was also a drop-in crafting session for children where they could decorate their own bunting, do some colouring and make a layered balloon birthday collage. This was followed by more crafting for children in the afternoon.

The library, which is now staffed by volunteers, was decorated with old photos, bunting and facts about how the space has changed over the last 100 years.

Maureen Prince, who was the village librarian from 1972 to 1999, attended the celebration. She was responsible for getting the library moved to the room on the ground floor in 1980, with residents previously having to go upstairs and to the back of Woodclyffe Hall.

She said: “There were more than 40 steps for people to climb to get to the library and I said to our vicar that downstairs – where we had the Working Men’s Club with table tennis – would be ideal to have the library. It was very difficult for elderly people and parents with children. The vicar listened to what I had to say. We took over the downstairs room and I selected all the colours and the carpets.

“I am very involved with the village and always have been. A lot of people in this village are elderly and the library is a brilliant resource for them. I would like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped to organise such a wonderful day. The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic. We had albums of photographs and everyone was thrilled to see those.”

Wargrave Library 100


Cllr Stephen Conway, leader of the council, said: “Libraries are an integral part of the community and this is certainly true in Wargrave. Just in the last year, people have shown how much they care about it, with a fantastic response to our call for volunteers. We are very grateful to all of them for their dedication and pleased to see such a wonderful turnout for the 100th anniversary celebration.”

A history of Wargrave Library

The library used to be in a room at the back of the building on the first floor, but moved to its present location - at the front of the building on the ground floor - in 1980.

Local news covered the first supply of books being received at the library in April 1924. At the time, it had only 100 books. It now has more than 5,600 items of stock, including a mix of reading materials, audiobooks,

The library was originally opened under the ‘new county system’ and was a reflection of the Public Libraries Act 1919, which encouraged county councils to provide a library service to areas outside the municipal boundaries.

Wargrave Library dining room


The service continued until the outbreak of World War Two, when it was suspended as the building was taken over for military use. During this time, the hostel and library were used as an auxiliary hospital for wounded soldiers by The Red Cross.

An appeal was made after the war by the local Women’s Institute and the service recommenced in 1952. It was administered by two volunteers, reflecting the community spirit that lives to this day.

In 1960, the library was expanded on a part-time basis and run by Berkshire County Council with an appointed branch librarian. It was still in the room on the first floor, but this proved to be inconvenient.

Finally, in September 1980, the ground floor room was vacated and the library moved downstairs and the room was completely redecorated and equipped.

When the library celebrated its 90th birthday in 2014, residents were asked to select their 100 favourite books, which were then put on display in the village library.

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