×
Select Page

Kenton Library

A good example of the Middlesex County Architect's Department's style adopted after 1933, which gave distinctive architectural form of calibre and panache to the London suburbs, this is also one of the best examples of inter-war library design in London. Grade II listed with original internal fittings.

Architect

Curtis & Burchett

Date

1939

Kenton Lane, Kenton HA3 8UJ

Sat 9am-5pm. Regular tours of the building.

Kenton, Harrow & Wealdstone

H9, H10, H18, H19, 114

  • Free parking
  • Partial disabled
  • Regularly open to the public at no charge

KENTON LIBRARY This Grade II-listed public library was designed by W T Curtis and H W Burchett of Middlesex County Council Architects Department and formally opened on 4 January 1939 by Councillor D C Ellis JP. The cost was œ7,637 plus œ980 for fixtures and fittings. The listing information describes the building as:Brown brick, flat roof. Single storey, with three storey central tower. L-shaped plan with central issuing desk and reading rooms in each wing. The square tower has two small, latter projections on the south-east corner, one of brick and one glazed. Both wings lit by tall metal windows. Entrance hall lit by east wall of glass bricks.Interior: original staircase, issuing desk and screen, and original bookcases. The main reading room is both side-lit and top-lit by means of circular perforated openings.Included as a good example of the Middlesex County Architects Department_s style adopted after 1933, owing much to the work of Wittem Dudok in Hilversum, yet giving a distinctive architectural form of calibre and panache to the London suburbs. This example is especially notable for its boldly geometric composition and the survival of internal fittings.William Curtis was the Chief Architect for Middlesex County Council and Howard Burchett Assistant Architect to the Education Committee. They are now regarded as being among the leading architects of inter-war British Modernism and designed schools, technical colleges, libraries, health centres and hospitals throughout the Middlesex County Council area. Many of their buildings retain their original use. Curtis and Burchett used innovative building techniques, such as steel framing (at Uxendon Manor School in Wembley, 1934) and concrete slab floors supported by pillars (Pinner Park School, 1934). Their designs are characterised by a strong horizontal emphasis offset by a signature central stair tower, as can be seen at Heathfield School, Pinner (1937), technical colleges in Enfield and Twickenham, De Bohun primary school in Oakwood (1936) and the Bowes Road library, swimming pool and health centre complex near Arnos Grove (1939). Rounded rather than square towers were designed for Lady Bankes Junior School in Ruislip (1936), Kenmore Park, Queensbury (1938) and Stanburn, Stanmore (1939). Kenton Library has changed remarkably little over the years, with the children_s and adults_ sections still in their original locations in each wing. The horseshoe-shaped issuing desk has been moved into the adults_ section from the central area to make way for self-service machines but the curved wood and glass screens fronting each reading room have been retained along with many other original features. These include the projecting wooden shelves with rounded ends creating bays in the adults_ section, neatly placed storage cupboards, slatted wooden frames masking radiators and metal door handles, window catches and banisters. The stairs lead to the workroom (originally the Branch Librarian_s room) on the first floor and a staff room on the second. The old coal chute can still be seen in the basement. An unusual feature is the large garden which is the focus of a _Secret Garden_ project, providing an opportunity for volunteers to participate in the design, development and maintenance of the garden for the benefit of library users and the local community.