Moffat Library 

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In 1885 the trustees of the late James Moffat met to discuss the style of buildings which would be constructed for the new public library.Mr Moffat, merchant  of Port Glasgow bequeathed the sum of £3,000 for the task and asked that the town council should secure ground on which to build.
Messrs Wilson & Stewart, architects Glasgow and Greenock were brought in to design the buildings (they also designed the Carnegie Orphanage) and through the town council in 1886 a suitable site for the buildings was obtained on the Town Hall ground with frontage to King Street.

The town for many years had "reading rooms" within the town buildings but it was not until the completion of the Moffat Library in King Street in February 1887 that the town had it's first public library.

The building housed a lending library,reading-room, billiard room and caretakers house the principal entrance being from King Street. The early caretaker and librarian of the building was Mr Hugh Beck from Ardrie, Lanarkshire.

The contractors of the various works were Mr James Taylor - Glasgow, mason work: Mr C. F. Stewart, Greenock - joiner work: Messrs Wilson & McFarlane, Port-Glasgow - plumbing work: Messrs P. McBride & Co., Port-Glasgow - plaster work: Mr N Gillespie, Port Glasgow - Slater work: and Messrs J. Cormack & Sons, Glasgow - heating. Mr Robert Guthrie, Greenock, acted as inspector of works.

The description of the buildings below comes from press reports at the time of opening sadly have no images of the building or interior.

The lending library, which is on the ground floor in an apartment thirty feet long and twenty-four feet six inches, the principal entrance being by a handsome porch from King Street.

A lift for conveying books to reading-room is provided. On the ground floor is also the caretaker's house, with good accommodation. The kitchen for the use of the Town Hall and cellar are placed in the basement. The staircase is in the north end of the building and is entered through the large arched doorway from the street. The reading room is on the upper floor and is forty-seven feet long by twenty-four feet six inches broad. The roof is open-timbered and measures twenty-two feet to the ceiling. The billiard and smoking rooms are also on this floor. At the back of the building over the Lesser Town Hall, lavatory accommodation is conveniently provided for these rooms, entering from the staircase. The light to the window in end wall of the Town Hall has been secured by a well, in which is placed a roof-light, to the Lesser Town Hall.
The exit from the Town Hall to King Street is by a passage through the building. The heating of the building is by hot-water pipes. The lending library and reading-room are ventilated by air trunks connected by openings in the ceilings. The architecture is in the classic style of the early French renaissance. The different apartments are well marked on the front to King Street, the reading-room being treated as the beletage, and is emphasised by being divided into five bays by panelled pilasters, the bays being filled by large mullioned windows. The dado stage under the windows is enriched by panels bearing the names of five of the Scotch poets-viz., Burns, Allan Ramsay, Walter Scott, James Hogg and Tannahill. This front has been executed of coursed hewn work. The steep-pitched roof of the reading-room is covered with green slates with red ridge-tiles, the sky-line being well broken by an effective fleche in which is the ventilator for reading-room

The buildings had cost a little over £1,600 and tribute was paid to the workmanship on the building and to the various tradesmen who had been engaged with it at the opening on 16th February 1887 - an event that was attended by many local business men, Bailie's and ex-Bailies and local church leaders who enjoyed the opening night with a cake and wine banquet served up in the reading-room by Mr J. P. Paterson, of the Victoria Restaurant.

In the first year the library reported that membership was sitting at 344, this included 93 apprentices admitted by ticket from the shipbuilders who had previously sent contributions to the Town Library. The amount raised from subscriptions in that year was £45. Money had also been raised from the sale of old books and with interest of £36 from the trusts funds made the income of the library for the first year just under £100 although the trust was concerned about the taxes of £14 yearly which they had to pay. Entrance to the billiard room was a penny a visit.

In this first year the library also received gifts of books from the various people as listed below

Mr John Anderson, banker; Mrs Somerville, Aldergrove; MR D.R McClelland, town, clerk; Mr James McCubbin, gas manager; Mr Wm. Lees, teacher; Mr W T Lithgow, shipbuilder ; Mr Robert Duncan,- shipbuilder ; Mrs Murray, Broadfield; The Dowager Countess of Dalhousie; Mr John M. Patten, London; Mr James Turner, Dundee ; Co-Operative Society, Limited, Princes Street; and Sir Charles Tupper. The committee have also received The Machinery Market monthly from the proprietors; The Co-operative Society, from the societies; The Bailie weekly from Mr John Gibb, bookseller ; Funny Folks weekly from Mr John McIntosh, bookseller; and The Woman's Suffrage .Journal monthly from the editor, which were duly acknowledged and the donors thanked.

The library was in operation for nearly 70 years - in 1930 the library was merged with the Rural Country Libraries and celebrated its first year as a county branch in 1931.
In1953 almost 590 books were removed from the premises - these were known as "Moffats Books" and were thought to have been in the library since it opened. They were stored in a section on their own and were not well used or read and it was decided to remove them to make way for more modern stock - what became of them is unknown. At this time the building received a small refit and general tidy up.
The recreation rooms closed in 1956 and the library shortly after. The building was removed during improvements to the town centre in the early 60's.

This page last modified on Tuesday, February 22, 2011