Shakespeare room rebuilt for new Birmingham library

Shakespeare Library c1970 John Henry Chamberlain designed the room

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A wood-panelled room originally built to house Birmingham's Shakespeare collection in the late 19th Century will take pride of place in the city's new library.

Built in 1882, the room was designed to reflect the Elizabethan age as a tribute to the playwright and poet.

Now it will be carefully taken apart piece by piece and rebuilt in a rotunda at the top of the new library in Centenary Square.

The new building is due to open in 2013.

Originally designed by John Henry Chamberlain for Birmingham's Victorian Central Library, the Shakespeare Memorial Room features carvings, marquetry and metalwork representing birds, flowers and foliage.

Giant jigsaw

By 1906, the city's Shakespeare collection had outgrown the space and it became a reading room until the old Central Library was demolished in 1974.

Memorial Room courtesy of BPM Media Ltd It was styled to reflect the Elizabethan era

That signalled the first move for the Memorial Room, which was preserved and relocated to its current home in Paradise Circus.

Now it is set for the next chapter in its history.

Later this year the room will be taken apart. The pieces will then be meticulously labelled and packed ahead of the move to the new Library of Birmingham.

With panels of up to four metres in length and benches spanning the width of four panels, special techniques will have to be used to hoist the pieces to the top of the new library building.

Once there, the panels and parts will then be pieced back together like a giant jigsaw puzzle to complete the restoration of the room.

It will be used for meetings and receptions and will also possibly house special exhibitions.

Cross section of new library The room will be rebuilt in the golden rotunda

Project Director for the Library of Birmingham Brian Gambles said: "The [new] library is built for the requirements of the 21st Century, but the city's heritage and tradition remains of the utmost importance.

"Dating back to the Victorian Library, the Shakespeare Memorial Room is of great significance to Birmingham's heritage and it is important to preserve it for future generations."

Work on the new building, which will be connected to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, started in January 2010.

Birmingham City Council says that more than three million visitors are expected to use the library each year.

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