In 1896 the Borough Council was in a quandary over whether to accept Mr Passmore Edward’s offer of £2,000 towards the building of a public library in Launceston. Having purchased the site of the Jubilee Inn in 1886, this was one of the sites considered, along with the Sheep Market, Northgate Corner, the houses in Westgate Street, or Love’s Corner on Horse Lane. As a result of a poll held in the Guildhall it was finally agreed to accept Mr Edwards’ offer; the poll was 328 to accept, and 130 against when taken on Thursday 18th December, 1896. (Northgate Corner was the eventual choice of site).
The Passmore Edwards Free Library and Technical Institute was opened on the 28th of April 1900 by Mr. M. B. Moulton QC MP. It was dedicated to the memory of local man Professor John Couch Adams, the astronomer who discovered Neptune. His widow contributed £50 and in a letter to town clerk Claude Peter she stated that he late husband held a great interest in public libraries and wanted to set one up at his birthplace of Laneast but had been dissuaded due to its remoteness.
Constructed of Polyphant stone and red brick the building contained the Library, magazine room and a newsroom. On the upper floor there were rooms for science and art classes. The caretakers residence was provided for in the basement. Cornwall County Council took over the library in 1947. With the new Library in Bounsalls lane opening the building was sold off and converted to residential flats.
Old Free Library site: Old Library : Conversion Approved.
Outline planning approval has been given to Mr W Tucker for the conversion of the old library in Tower Street, Launceston into four flats. The approval was given at Mondays’ meeting of the North Cornwall Planning Committee, follows the granting of permission by the housing committee for the use of an access to a car parking area through the adjoining council-owned property. A previous application for the conversion of the lod library into six flats was refused in May and Launceston Town Council is still opposed to the development, believing that there will be a loss of amenity and disturbance to residents of the adjoining flats.
But the planners did not concur with this objection and felt now that the number of flats had been reduced, outline permission could be granted. Mr Bill Grigg commented:- “On reflection, I think it is a shame that the application for six flats was refused.”
Objection: Old Library. – Councillor Alan Buckingham asks us to point out that at the meeting of the North Cornwall District Council [reported last week] he did not attempt to block the scheme for the provision of accommodation on the site of the Old Library at Northgate Street, Launceston. In fact he states he made the suggestion of the existence of alterations to the scheme that was before the Council.
Reverse Plan: Council Reverses Plans. Committees Decision.
Launceston Town Council on Monday reversed by seven votes to one the decision of the planning committee to recommend support for a planning application from Mr W Tucker, of Trewornan Farm, Wadebridge, to convert the old library at Tower Street, into four flats. In proposing that the application should not be supported Mr Alan Buckingham said the decision had been made by three members of the planning committee attending a meeting on May 23rd and he was sure it was against the wishes of the majority on the council. There was still time to change the recommendation to the North Cornwall Council.
Mr Buckingham claimed the establishment of flats in the old library would be detrimental to the environment and would destroy the peace and quiet enjoyed by old people occupying the adjoining flats.