First library in Goathland for more than 50 years officially opens

The first library in Goathland for more than half a century was officially opened on Wednesday, 12 December.

library volunteers

Goathland Community Hub and Sports Pavilion, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council’s library service, has embarked on an exciting new phase in the development of this popular culture and sports venue. The library brings a great choice of reading that can be borrowed by all residents, adults and children.

The Hub’s Chair of Trustees Keith Thompson said: “I am really proud that for the first time in 52 years and with the support of the County Council, Goathland residents will have their own library. The hub, which we opened last year, is right at the heart of the village and so a great convenient location for residents.”

County Councillor Clive Pearson, Member for the Esk Valley, is a keen supporter of the Hub and has donated some of his locality budget in the past towards sporting developments at the venue.

He said: “The library is a valuable addition to the facilities offered by the Hub, strengthening its role as a social centre for all members of the community.”

County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide this collection of books for the village of Goathland and I wish Keith and the volunteers every success with this new venture. It’s proof that despite the challenges facing libraries today, they remain loved and valued by our communities and continue to flourish.”

The library of more than 600 books will be regularly topped up with new books by the County Council and staffed by an enthusiastic group of volunteers. The County Council will also offer training and some staff support.

The opening hours will be 1pm to 5pm on Wednesday and 10am to noon on Saturdays. These hours may increase, if more volunteers come forward.

The original village library was housed in the Reading Room, which opened on 25 June 1894. It was built by public subscription on land donated by the Duchy of Lancaster under the Literary and Scientific Instruments Act of 1854. Before that, the village Literary and Philosophical Society met in a room above the village post office but had to leave when the then postmaster married and needed the room for his children. For some years the library was part of the old North Riding County Council Library Service before its closure as a library and bookstore in 1966.

When it opened, newspapers and periodicals were limited and were often days or weeks old when they were placed in the Reading Room, membership of which cost 1d (one pre-decimal penny) a week. It was considered a great privilege to access publications such as Penny Story Teller, Pearson’s Weekly, Chums, Cottager & Artisan, British Workman and Penny Pictorial, to name a few. Those less able could learn to read, meet socially, often playing board games or cards as well as reading.

The building itself had many other uses, including designated pie hall and mortuary during the Second World War, the village youth club and snooker room, latterly being home to the Goathland Plough Stots, the village sword dance team.

The cessation of the mobile library, the parlous state of the cricket pavilion and the needs of the Plough Stots became key drivers behind the development of the Community Hub, which opened in September 2017. The opening of the library after an absence of 52 years is part of the development of the Hub, or The Hut, as it is also known, as a community-based asset is a key part of the overall development as a performing arts venue,  cultural heritage exhibition centre, sports pavilion, conference facility and meeting place.

This story was published 17 December 2018