Tue, 12 Jul 11 17:44:00
On Friday 15 July the National Library of Wales will commemorate the centenary of laying its foundation stone. To celebrate this historic event the Library is calling on its users, supporters and fans to embrace the iconic building in what is expected to be the world’s biggest ever cwtsh!
The foundation stone was laid by George V to the sound of a gun salute by a flotilla in Cardigan Bay. The centenary celebrations will not be so formal – but are in many ways just as ambitious.
The Library calculates that to create a human chain to encircle the half kilometre circumference of the majestic building they will need some 450 people. Although the Library employs 300 people, they will still need many of the Library’s fans to show their support for the historic building and its treasures.
‘Over the years thousands of people have visited the Library as readers or to see exhibitions and events here. We’d like to invite them to join us and a create a huge human chain around the building in celebration of the contribution of the National Library to Welsh cultural and intellectual life and to town of Aberystwyth,’ said the Librarian, Andrew Green.
The human chain will be formed at 2.15 p.m. followed by a short ceremony at the front of the neo-classical building by the Library’s President, Dafydd Wigley. Supporters will then be invited into the beautiful building for a free drink and cake.
Supporters are asked to wear red clothing if possible – the colour of the Library’s logo and Welsh dragon, so that the chain will stand out.
‘The National Library of Wales was founded on the back of a mass subscription campaign waged by the Welsh people over a century ago. In that respect it is unique among the national libraries of the world. We are now asking the Welsh people to show their continued support for the Library and affirm that the building and its collections will serve the people for the next hundred years,’ added the Librarian.
Facts about the Library
Circumference – 500m
Height – 18m
Floor space – 35,000m
History of the Building
In 1905 the Privy Council decided that Wales would have a national library and museum. It was decided to locate the library in Aberystwyth and museum in Cardiff.
The land where the Library was to be located had been bought and donated to the Library’s committee by Lord Rendel, former MP for Montgomeryshire. A competition was announced to design the National Library. There were two main briefs, firstly to design a building which celebrated the importance of the collection and secondly to keep in mind the proposed location of the Library. Sidney Kyffin Greenslade won the competition. Although it wasn’t the most majestic design it was chosen as the committee saw its strengths as a ‘squat building’ as so most likely to withstand the elements which the building would face located exposed facing south west on an elevated position.
The foundation stone was laid on 15 July 1911. Cornish granite was used for the ground floor and white Portland stone for the floors above. The Library was located in Laura Place until 1916 when the first collections and staff were moved to the new building. Because of the constraints on finance brought about by the Great War and later the Depression, the building wasn’t completed until 1936.
Centenary Building Celebration Events
Wednesday 13 July, 1.15 p.m.
The Library of Film – archive clips of the Library including a film of laying the foundation stone, the official opening in 1937 and an early film by Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards.
Thursday 14 July, 1.15. p.m.
Gwyneth Lewis – Poetry and talk in the company of Wales’s National Poet who composed the Library’s centenary poems during the celebrations of the Library’s founding in 2007.
Friday 15 July, 10.30 a.m. & 3.30 p.m.
Guided Tour of the Building and its History in the company of Tony Morgan, architect.
For further information:
Any individuals, clubs and societies who wish to take part in this exciting and historic event are asked to contact:
01970 632534 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Siôn Jobbins, NLW Press Office: 01970 632902 email@example.com