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Black and white photograph showing a large crowd gathered outside Colwyn Bay's Coronation Free Library on opening day.

In 1892 the Free Libraries Act allowed councils to put a halfpenny on the rates to provide libraries. The Temperance Movement in Colwyn Bay decided that libraries were a good way of keeping young men out of public houses. Members of the Movement attended a council meeting in December 1901 and demanded a library for Colwyn Bay. Under the chairmanship of the Rev. Thomas Parry, a committee was set up to take the idea forward.

In 1902 a public meeting was held in the town to decide on an appropriate memorial to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII. It was decided to build a library.

Black and white photo showcasing the interior of Colwyn Bay Library's Magazine Room with a group of children and three adults using the room.

An appeal was established and subscriptions were raised from the townspeople. Promises of books were also received. The millionaire Andrew Carnegie, who financed the building of 3,000 public libraries, offered a gift of £3,800, on condition that a proposed clock tower was removed from the plans.

By December 1902 plans had been submitted and Booth, Chadwick & Porter were appointed as project architects. Owing to its central location, Woodland Road was selected for the site.

Photo showcasing a golden key that was made by W. Jones & Son Jewellers, Colwyn Bay and presented to Mrs. Thomas Parry for 'Opening the Coronation Free Library'

Work started at the end of January 1904 and was completed in 1905 with the library being opened by Rev Thomas Parry on Easter Monday April 24th.

Built by Messrs. Robert Evans & Son, Old Colwyn, the total cost for land, building and furnishing was £5,436.

Black and white photo of three individuals being show art pieces by an artist

Art Exhibitions

In 1935 it was considered that ‘art and aesthetic experience are necessaries of life’ and that no ‘town or community need to be deprived of the facilities of appreciating and enjoying many of the finest work of art through lack of funds.’ (Foreword, First Annual Summer Exhibition, Colwyn Bay Public Library 1935)

To ensure that the people of Colwyn Bay could ‘appreciate and enjoy works of art’, in July 1935, the Library opened the first of a series of art exhibitions: a show of work by local artists.

Over the years, the Library has held many art exhibitions. Early in the 1990s, the former Magazine Room became a purpose built exhibition gallery.

By 2003 the provision of new facilities at the library, including 20 People’s Network computers, 10 of which were sited in the gallery area, led to the temporary loss of gallery space. However, in April 2005, with funding from the Arts Council of Wales, a new exhibition gallery was opened in the foyer at Colwyn Bay Library.

Wooden train filled with books in the children's area of a library


The children’s library was opened in 1933 and through the years a varied programme of activities for children has taken place.

Bookstart, is a scheme where babies receive a free pack of books from their Health Visitor at their 7-9 month check. Launched by the Booktrust, the scheme has been running in Conwy County Borough since 1999. A new Bookstart scheme, funded by the National Assembly through the Basic Skills Strategy, was launched in Colwyn Bay Library on November 20th, 2001.

The arrival of computers at Colwyn Bay Library began with the Galaxy issue system in 1986. Since local government reorganisation in 1996 the library was part of the TalNet network that includes all public libraries in the county of Conwy along with libraries in Anglesey and Gwynedd. This system enabled the issue and discharge of items which were borrowed, and access to a catalogue of all the stock available in the three counties. These facilities could also be accessed using the Internet.

In August 2003 the People’s Network was launched at Colwyn Bay. There are now 20 public access computers at the library which are available for use by all visitors to the library. The service includes WiFi access.