St John Wilson’s British Library given grade I listing

  • British Library by Colin St John Wilson in Euston Road

Colin St John Wilson’s ‘immense and extraordinary’ British Library building has been handed a grade I listing by heritage minister Tracey Crouch

The £500million red brick building in London’s Euston Road, which was completed in 1997 after a troubled 35-year history, was listed along with seven other post-war libraries following a UK-wide thematic study by Historic England.

Among them Chandler’s Ford Library, in Eastleigh (1982) designed by architect Colin Stansfield Smith and Milton Keynes Central Library (1981) by Buckinghamshire County Council architects.

Designed with MJ Long, the 120,000m2 British Library currently houses the world’s largest collection of digital and printed items and was the biggest public building to be built in the UK during the 20th century.

The landmark, which was recommended for a grade I-listing by Historic England, was praised for ‘its soaring and stimulating spaces’ which had become ‘much-loved and well-used by scholars and members of the public alike’.

Surrounded on both sides by 11 reading rooms, the library’s centrepiece is the ‘magnificent’ King’s Library tower, home to the library of George III as well as the Treasures Gallery that hold national Treasures such as Magna Carta, Lindisfarne Gospels and original Beatles lyrics.

Heritage minister Crouch said: ‘The British Library divided opinion from the moment its design was revealed, but I am glad that expert advice now allows me to list it, ensuring that its iconic design  is protected for future generations to enjoy.’

The other seven libraries listed (all grade II)

Suffolk Record Office, Suffolk (1963-65) by Donald McMorran
Bebington Central Library, The Wirral (1967-71) by Paterson, Macauley and Owens
Milton Keynes Central Library, Milton Keynes (1979-81) by Buckinghamshire County Council architects
West Sussex Library, West Sussex (1965-66) by county architect F R Steele
Bourne Hall Library Social Centre, Epsom, Surrey (1967-70) by AG Sheppard Fidler and Associates
Lillington Library, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire  (1959-60) by Henry Fedeski
Chandler’s Ford Library, Eastleigh, Hampshire (1981-82) by Hampshire County Council architect Colin Stansfield Smith

Chandler’s Ford Library, Eastleigh (1982) by Hampshire County Council architect Colin Stansfield Smith

AJ Buildings Library

See photographs and drawings of the British Library in the AJ Buildings Library

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