Since September 2013, the Shakespeare Memorial Room has been located on Level 9 at the Library of Birmingham (near the Skyline Viewpoint). Did you know that it was orginally built in 1882 to house the Shakespeare Library and was designed by John Henry Chamberlain. It was later dismantled and placed in the 1974 Central Library in the School of Music Complex, before it was moved again.

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The Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham





Since September 2013, the Shakespeare Memorial Room has been located on Level 9 at the Library of Birmingham (near the Skyline Viewpoint). Did you know that it was orginally built in 1882 to house the Shakespeare Library and was designed by John Henry Chamberlain. It was later dismantled and placed in the 1974 Central Library in the School of Music Complex, before it was moved again.


The Shakespeare Memorial Room

On the 28th September 2013, I returned to the Library of Birmingham for my second visit. Also to go up to the floors that I had no time for the first time around. I went up the lift. Some lifts only go has far as Level 7, so you need the lift to Level 9. This would take you to the Skyline Viewpoint and to the Shakespeare Memorial Room. Or you can walk up the stairs.

In the first month of being open, the library was very busy and full of tourists, including many from overseas, so it was packed! There was a lot of people in the Shakespeare Memorial Room on my first visit. Although in the years since, I've had the room to myself.

Click here for my last post on the Library of Birmingham for an interior tour.

Now located inside of the Golden Cylinder at the top of the Library (looks like a Nescafe Gold Blend coffee jar lid).

The Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library was founded by George Dawson and some of his closest friends, as they decided that Birmingham should be the home of the greatest collection of Shakespeare's books in the world. They insisted that a room be built for them, and that it should be free and open to everyone.

It was originally created for the much loved (and missed) Victorian Central Library (opened in 1882 and demolished in 1974). The first Central Library of the Victorian era was built in 1866 but was partially destroyed by a fire in 1879. John Henry Chamberlain was given the task to re-build the Library and this included a room to house Birmingham's Shakespeare Library.

Sir Barry Jackson, the founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1913, later became a Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon during the late 1940s. There is a gavel given to him in 1936 in the room.

The next Central Library was designed by John Madin and was built from 1969 until 1974. The Shakespeare Memorial Room was dismantled from the old Victorian library and put back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Being placed in what was the School of Music complex. Which included Adrian Boult Hall and the Birmingham Conservatoire. This included the Library Theatre Birmingham and the William Shakespeare Memorial Library and the Library Exhibition Hall.

It remained there until it was moved to the new Library of Birmingham in 2013 (built from 2010 until 2013).

The roof was reconstructed by in plaster by A E Edwards & Co, a Birmingham based company dating to the 1870s.

I'd only ever got close to the outside of the old complex (during 2011), so never stepped foot in the room until it reopened at the Library of Birmingham in 2013.

 

View of the Library Theatre Birmingham on the 2nd January 2011. This concrete bridge was in front of Woktastic. There was also an entrance to Adrian Boult Hall at the time.

What was the entrance to the William Shakespeare Memorial Library and Library Exhibition Hall. I never went in. Wasn't sure if I could open the doors as they were self locking doors. After the last Central Library closed down for good in 2013, I had to wait for the new Library to open before I could see the room for myself for the first time.

On the 31st August 2013, I was getting my last views of the Library of Birmingham before it opened to the public in Centenary Square 3 days later on the 3rd September 2013. This view of the golden cylinder seen from Suffolk Street Queensway. The windows at the front is the Skyline Viewpoint and the Shakespeare Memorial Room is behind that.

On the 21st September 2013 during my first visit to the inside of the Library of Birmingham I took the photo below. At the top of the library on Level 9 is the Shakespeare Memorial Room inside of the Golden Cylinder. Below on Level 7 is the Secret Garden. The view was from the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line (near the Turnover Bridge No. 2 close to what was at that point called the National Indoor Arena). Overlooking the ICC Energy Centre.

On the 28th September 2013, arriving at the Shakespeare Memorial Room on Level 9 for the first time. There was a lot of people in there.

Looking up at the ceiling. It is remarkable that this has survived since the late 19th century (unless it is a recreation).

Looking to the wooden panelling on one side of the room.

It more or less looks the same to the right.

And to the left near the door.

One of the corners with the bookcases.

Looking down at the doors of the lower cabinets.

Looking up to the ceiling to the ornate detailing at the top.

Out of the door, and there was comfy red sofas at the Skyline Viewpoint.

Ornate glass windows in the upper cabinet doors.

The views outside the room are spectacular. There is also a couple of busts and plaques / tablets, including ones saved from the old Central Libraries. If the lifts are busy walk down the stairs (if you can).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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