Kilburn Library

12-22 Kilburn High Road
London NW6 5UH


Friends Group
At present, there is no active Friends Group at KIlburn
Library. Before its move from the original Cotley Road site in 2006, it did have a very active group which was mainly concerned with the library's large childrens usage. Unfortunately, this user enthusiasm did not transfer to the new site on Kilburn High Road.

If you would like to help to form a group, please email CPLUG's Chair at:


A Short History of Kilburn Library




In October 1894, Hampstead Vestry had opened a temporary library at 48 Priory Road to serve the Kilburn area. Two years later it was decided to build a permanent library, but a suitable site had to be found. At first a sub-committee consulted with Sir Maryon-Wilson, the Lord of the Manor, about the possibility of obtaining a piece of ground in Britannia Fields (the name given to the area between Priory Road and Finchley Road). This proved impossible and the Vestry decided to make an offer for a portion of ‘The Chimes’ estate on the corner of Quex Road and West End Lane. In February 1897 the sub-committee recommended that the Vestry should purchase the land from the owner, Mr T. Yeo, for £1200. However they were unsuccessful, so in August 1898 they next attempted to buy a plot in Mazenod Avenue for £1000, but in September 1898 they were informed that the new owner had withdrawn the offer. Finally, in April 1899 the Vestry made enquires about land in Cotleigh Road. It belonged to two separate owners but they were told that they could obtain the freehold for £1200 from a Mr Wright. In November 1899 they decided to go ahead, and to finance the purchase an application was made to the London County Council for a loan of £1200, to be repaid over 50 years. In May 1900 they looked at several designs for the building and accepted one prepared by Charles Lowe, the Hampstead Borough Surveyor, at an estimated cost of £2486, which included the counters but no other fittings. In August that year they asked the Local Government Board for permission to raise £3080 for the building. In July 1901 a letter was received from the LCC saying they were prepared to advance a loan of £2590 for the erection of building, to be paid back within 30 years.

A tender was put out, and in May 1901 they received bids from ten builders for the Library. These ranged from £3047 to £2400. They decide to accept the lowest, which came from John Christie, of Richmond Road, Uxbridge. In October they also accepted a bid of £250 from the North of England School Furnishing Company of Darlington to supply the fittings.

The temporary library at 48 Priory Road was closed on the 31 December 1901. The Librarian was instructed to open the news room at the new Library on the 6 February 1902. This was to be done without public ceremony, as the formal opening was deferred until the completion of the lending department. Finally, the Mayor formally opened the Library on 9 July 1902.
After a hundred years of use, in August 2002 the Camden Leisure and Community Services Committee agreed to the relocation of Cotleigh Road Library to a new building at 12-22 Kilburn High Road.

In October 2002 Colin Buchanan and Partners were commissioned by Camden Council to undertake a feasibility study into the future use of the Cotleigh Library building. They reported in July 2003 and recommended West Hampstead Women’s Centre as the preferred bidder for use of the building. The survey of the building found that it was in fairly good physical condition, but that it would require work totalling £210,725. It was estimated that it had a current rental value of £32,000 per annum. The value of the freehold site was estimated at a market value of £820,000, more if it were demolished and a new residential block permitted. If it was decided that the existing building must be retained for ‘community use’ then the valuation was likely to be half this figure. There is a legal comment at the end of the Council minutes which says that the ownership of the land is subject to covenants restrictions and agreements as to the mode of building contained in a deed dated 6 April 1883. However, a copy of this deed is not held with the title deeds for this land. The Land Registry is unable to produce a copy and the Camden Borough Solicitor has not seen the deed and was therefore unable to advise on the nature of the restrictions.

From our research we believe that the deed must relate to the sale of the large ‘Oaklands Hall’ estate, previously the home of Sir Charles Murray, off West End Lane. The first part of the sale was in March 1883 and the plots which were used for the library were sold then, so the April deed referred to above by the Borough Solicitor was probably when the land was formally conveyed to the new owners.

Dick Weindling and Marianne Colloms


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