Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wolverton Public Library

In 1949 Wolverton got its first free public library. Hitherto the Science and Art Institute's Reading Room  on Church Street had fulfilled that function. I understand that a membership fee or subscription was required.
The new library was located at 122 Church Street, a double-fronted house on the corner of Cambridge Street. It had been built and occupied 50 years earlier by a builder and had been acquired by the Wolverton Council some years later for office use.
The two front rooms served as the library - the children's library on the Cambridge Street side and the adult library on the western side of the front door.
The library ticket was a small credit-card sized cardboard folder with your name and address written on the front. Each book you borrowed ( and there were limits) had a slip which was put inside your card and filed on the date due. The due date was stamped on a paper inside the front cover. I think we were issued two cards - one for fiction and one for non-fiction. In those early days I think I was reading books illustrated by Ronald Searle (of St Trinians fame), Biggles stories about the WWI air ace, and books about Greyfriars school which featured the overweight Billy Bunter.
I believe that the council offices were at the back or upstairs. The School Dentist had a surgery here, upstairs through the side door. The lady dentist had heavy dark-rimmed glasses which gave her a severe appearance, which did not help my confidence on the occasions I went there. The drill, which ran on a system of rubber belts and pulleys was grindingly slow. The anaesthetic used for extractions was laughing gas (nitrous oxide), administered through a pink rubber mask that covered the nose and mouth. I remember the "laughing" sensation as one went down and awakening sometime later with a mouth full of blood.
The newer flat-roofed building at the back of the house was added circa 1960 and served as the library until it was moved to the renovated Market Hall in 2007.

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