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Spring Hill library | Spring Hill local history | Birmingham City Council

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Spring Hill library

Spring Hill Library is a fine example of late nineteenth century architecture and is a Grade II listed building. Its foundation stone was laid in 1891. Designed by the Birmingham architects, Martin and Chamberlain, it opened on 7th January 1893. Constructed in the red brick and terracotta style familiar in many of Birmingham municipal buildings of the day, its distinctive 65 feet tower with four clock faces has given the library an enduring presence amidst a rapidly changing landscape.

The site was previously the location for the turnpike gate house for Icknield Street.

Spring Hill Library has made the news on several occasions. In its first year of opening it issued more books per day than any of the city branch libraries, and in 1895 a man was sentenced to six weeks in prison with hard labour for throwing books around the library and resisting arrest.

On 16th March 1949 a number 8 bus crossing Spring Hill from Monument Road into Icknield Street, collided with a fire engine travelling down Summerhill. The impact of the crash caused the bus to topple over onto the pavement outside Spring Hill Library. One person was killed and over 30 were taken to hospital. An inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death and found insufficient care caused the crash and both drivers were criticised. The scratch marks made by the bus can still be seen today on the library wall.

In the early 1970s the library was saved from demolition. Plans for the Middle Ring Road were re-routed at the last minute following a public outcry and Ladywood Middleway was diverted to leave the building intact.

In the early 21st century, an adjoining local shopping precinct which had fallen into decline was demolished and replaced by a Tesco superstore, built alongside and linked with a glazed atrium.