Last month, following the completion of a £1.5 million renovation to create a contemporary space fit for the 21st century, Liskeard Library re-opened its doors to the community for a special celebration event.
Liskeard Library is a Grade II-listed, purpose-built John Passmore Edwards library, constructed to reflect the beliefs that everyone should have access to knowledge and learning. Since its original opening in 1896, the Flemish Renaissance style building has housed a library, often alongside other functions, including a bank.
By 2017, despite remaining as an important community resource, Liskeard Library had fallen into a poor state of repair. Throughout its history, various alterations had stripped out many of the heritage features, instead adding partitions and sub-divisions that created a complex set of rooms, most of which were inaccessible and unused. To enable it to become an inclusive, contemporary space, the building required significant capital works and modernisation.
A community asset transfer took place between Cornwall Council and Real Ideas Organisation - an award-winning social enterprise that works to solve problems and create positive and lasting social change - which took on a long lease and library service contract.
Now, thanks to Real Ideas, many original features of Liskeard Library have been restored, and larger, more accessible spaces have been created, both inside and outside. As well as the downstairs library service, which offers access to thousands of books, the multi-purpose building now has a modern café and relaxing spaces to read, including a courtyard and rooftop terrace. Additionally, there is a meeting room, workspace and studio space upstairs, all of which are available to book for a variety of activities, events, and meetings, providing a vibrant community and working space in Liskeard town centre.
Image: The interior of Liskeard Library. Photo courtesy of Real Ideas Organisation.
The Library is also now home to Real Ideas business unit, Pathways, which runs a variety of programmes and experiences that support the exploration of career and employment opportunities, as well as skills development and business start-up support.
The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) is delighted to have supported the regeneration of Liskeard Library at various stages of the project, initially awarding Real Ideas Organisation a Project Development Grant in 2018 to support the development of architects’ plans. The planned reconfiguration and thoughtful opening up of internal spaces, plus strong community engagement, subsequently helped Real Ideas to secure a first-round Transformational Project Grant through the Transforming Places through Heritage programme in 2019 - this supported the renovation of the building. Further, a Heritage Impact Fund loan towards the completion of the capital works to the building was made in 2023. The loan was critical to the completion of the project, helping to make up a budget shortfall caused by unexpected complications with the building.
To find out more about Liskeard Library, please visit: Liskeard Library – Real Pathways (realideas.org)