upon a time,
before the town of Portsmouth was founded, this coastline was made up of creeks, low-lying marsh and water. Over the centuries the coastline has altered, but the town's position here on the south coast, its proximity to the open sea, coupled with control of the harbour and its entrance, have secured Portsmouth's place in history as one of the world's great anchoranges and a rendevouz for British shipping in times of war for over 800 years.
Object of the month: 09/03
September’s objects are plans of the Carnegie library, which stands on Fratton Road, Portsmouth. These are part of a large, colourful collection of architectural plans and elevations drawn by local architect A.E Cogswell. He was born in Peterborough and moved to Portsmouth in around 1870. He became apprenticed to an architect in 1872 and entered into a partnership in 1878. His brother and sons subsequently became involved in the business, which undertook private residential work as well as designing schools in Gosport, Fareham and Portsmouth. Among the large amount of work they carried out were libraries, Kingston gaol, public houses and other miscellaneous corporation and private developments. He died in 1934 but his sons carried on the business for some years. Many of Cogswell’s fine buildings still stand in the city today.
The library was named after Mr Andrew Carnegie, the Pittsburgh millionaire, who responded to a requested for funds. He donated £4,500 for the establishment of the library in the Kingston district, upon condition that the town provided the site and upkeep. It was just one of thousands of libraries all over the world that he funded. Cogswell designed the library free of cost and it was opened on September 12th 1906. Separate reading rooms were built for ladies and gentlemen and the library also featured an octagonal dome light.
The plans are available in the Searchroom at Portsmouth City Museum and Records Office. Supporting business records can also be requested.
Portsmouth City Museums and Records Office, 114A/K/1/1 and 114A/K/1/2
Museum accession number 300/1981