Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham Central Library timeline

Birmingham Central Library Image copyright Birmingham Library and Archive Services
Image caption The library had two million photographic stills and more than 150,000 items of music
John Madin Image copyright RIBA
Image caption The central library was designed by Birmingham-born architect John Madin
Harold Wilson officially opening the library in 1974 Image copyright Birmingham City Council
Image caption Prime Minister Harold Wilson officially opened the library in January 1974
Lending library Image copyright Birmingham Library and Archive Services
Image caption Placed end to end, its books would stretch from Birmingham to Edinburgh
1973; looking at the old Central Library from the new - From Birmingham City Council website Image copyright Birmingham City Council
Image caption The old library opened in 1882

After 40 years, Birmingham Central Library closed to the public on 29 June 2013, ahead of the opening of a new £190m library.

The old library officially opened in 1974 and was once described by Prince Charles as looking like "a place where books are incinerated, not kept".

Three libraries have stood on the site since 1865. Now, demolition work has begun to make way for the Paradise Circus development.

The new library in Centenary Square was designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo and opened on 3 September 2013.

September 1865 - Birmingham's first public library opened to great acclaim

January 1879 - Fire significantly damaged the building and contents

June 1882 - A rebuilt library reopened along with new donations

1938 - The council approved the building of a new library but war postponed the plans

1960 - The Birmingham Mail reported the library was struggling to look after 750,000 books in a building designed to hold 30,000

Image copyright Birmingham Library and Archive Service
Image caption A room for Birmingham's Shakespeare collection, built in 1882, was rebuilt in the new library

June 1970 - The foundation stone of a new library was laid on the same site as the old one

Mid 1973 - The new building, designed by Birmingham's John Madin, was ready and in use

January 1974 - The library was officially opened by the Prime Minister Harold Wilson

Early 2000 - The council identified major problems with the 1970s building

September 2006 - Centenary Square was revealed as the location for the new library

Image caption Demolition work began in December 2015

August 2008 - Architects Mecanoo were appointed

April 2009 - The new Library of Birmingham design was revealed

November 2009 - The Culture and Tourism Minister decided not to give the old Central Library listed status

December 2012 - Demolition of the old Central Library was agreed by the council

June 2013 - The library closes to readers with more than 400,000 books being transferred

August 2013 - The reception at the old Central Library will close

September 2013 - The new £190m Library of Birmingham opened

December 2015 - Demolition work began on Birmingham Central Library

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