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"I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society, but the people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by EDUCATION." By Thomas Jefferson, 1820, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the 3rd President of the United States of America.


Carnegie Library in Royton, Lancashire, built in 1905


Royton Public Library is a famous building in the North of England because of its history and connection with Andrew Carnegie the American millionaire. Royton was one of the few towns in Northern England to be privileged to receive one of these generous grants to build this very impressive structure.


Royton Library

Photograph of the Carnegie Library, Royton, courtesy of Stanley Walker(c)


Carnegie believed in giving to the "industrious and ambitious; not those who need everything done for them, but those who, being most anxious and able to help themselves, deserve and will be benefited by help from others”. Most of the library buildings were unique, constructed in a number of styles, including Beaux-Arts, Italian Renaissance, Baroque, Classical Revival, and Spanish Colonial. Scottish Baronial was one of the styles used in Carnegie's native Scotland. Each style was chosen by the community. The architecture was typically simple and formal, welcoming patrons to enter through a prominent doorway, nearly always accessed via a staircase. The entry staircase symbolized a person's elevation by learning. Similarly, outside virtually every library was a lamppost or lantern, meant as a symbol of enlightenment. Carnegie’s grants were very large for the era and his library philanthropy is one of the largest philanthropic activities, by value, in history. Small towns received grants of $10,000 that enabled them to build large libraries that immediately were among the most significant town amenities in hundreds of communities, including the town of Royton in Lancashire.

Books and libraries were important to Carnegie, beginning with his early childhood in Scotland and his teen years in Allegheny, Pittsburgh in the USA. There he listened to readings and discussions of books from the Tradesman's Subscription Library, which his father helped to create. Later in Pennsylvania, while working for the local telegraph company in Pittsburgh, Carnegie borrowed books from the personal library of Colonel James Anderson, who opened his collection to his workers every Saturday. Anderson, like Carnegie, resided in Allegheny.

On March 12, 1901, Andrew Carnegie, one of the world’s foremost industrialists, offered the city of New York $5.2 million for the construction of sixty-five branch libraries. The Scottish immigrant’s fortune eventually would establish many more libraries and charitable foundations. A famous quote by Carnegie was, “The man who enters a library is in the best society this world affords; the good and the great welcome him, surround him, and humbly ask to be allowed to become his servants.”

Born in 1835, Carnegie emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1848 with his parents. Working in American industry and making shrewd investments, he amassed a fortune before the age of thirty. In the 1870s, he noted the potential of the steel industry and founded J. Edgar Thomson Steel Works near Pittsburgh, which eventually evolved into the Carnegie Steel Company. The company boomed, and in 1901, Carnegie sold it to financier J. P. Morgan for $480 million, received $250 million as his personal share, and retired. Carnegie devoted the rest of his life to writing and philanthropic activities. Believing that any accumulated wealth should be distributed in the form of public endowments, Carnegie founded 2,509 libraries in the English-speaking world, including ones in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. He also established several trusts and helped found Carnegie Mellon University. At the time of his death in 1919, Carnegie had given away over $350 million.


In his autobiography, Carnegie credited Anderson with providing an opportunity for "working boys" (that some said should not be "entitled to books") to acquire the knowledge to improve themselves. Carnegie's personal experience as an immigrant, who with help from others worked his way into a position of wealth, reinforced his belief in a society based on merit, where anyone who worked hard could become successful. This conviction was a major element of his philosophy of giving in general, and of his libraries as its best known expression.

Andrew Carnegie, three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing slightly left, 1913.jpg
Andrew Carnegie in 1913

A typical layout floor plan of a Carnegie Library is shown at this link. Click here.

Andrew Carnegie, based on his generosity donated this building and library to the people of Royton for perpetuity, (perpetuity is an annuity that has no end or that continues forever, ad infinitum). A recent news article in 2018 has revealed that the local municipal officials are planning to close it down and move the contents of this world famous library to nearby inferior premises and then sell this magnificent building to a local developer who could possibly convert it into a seedy night club, which is the last thing the upright citizens of Royton need. Poor Andrew Carnegie would turn in his grave if he knew of this scandalous act that is a direct violation of the “title deeds” of this property and a blatant breach of international law and the ignorant misuse of his generous, dedicated gift of this spectacular Carnegie Library that he made to the people of Royton.

For more details regarding this impressive building we encourage you to check out and read the book, “The Delamere Saga-The Untold Story of Vale Royal Abbey” that provides more information related to the history of Royton, Lancashire.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to lodge your protest to this terrible decision to sell off this famous building to a private developer, we would encourage you to write and lodge your protest to the Town Clerk, District Town Hall, Rochdale Road, Royton, OL2 6QG, Lancashire, England.

If you would like to use this extract regarding the world famous Carnegie Library in Royton, please contact us at our Long Beach offices with a written request (for our records only), click here. Also please read our web page regarding copyright details, click here.

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