One of the historic building that is situated in the market town of Pontefract is “The Museum’. A place to soak up the atmosphere and historical information before more sightseeing.
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History of the Museum – Pontefract
Pontefract Museum was built in 1904 as a Free Library paid for by the Scottish steel industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, at a cost of £2,588. After making a fortune in America he founded libraries throughout Britain.
The building was designed by Castleford architects, Garside & Pennington, who opted for the Art Nouveau style with its long, flowing shapes and forms of nature, which had become fashionable throughout Europe.
Originally, the Library had no more than 2,000 books and there were Children’s, Ladies’ and Newspaper Reading Rooms open, in the early years, from 9am to 10pm daily.
In 1942 the number of books had increased to 980 in the Reference Section and 4000 in the Lending Library. By 1935 there were 12,789 books and by the 1960’s it was evident that a new, larger building was required. It narrowly avoided being demolished when a supermarket was proposed to be built on the site.
With a new Library in place, the building was opened as a museum in 1978 and was refurbished as part of the Town Centre re-development in 1998. New permanent displays were completed in 2001.
More information on the Museum can be found in its Reference Room.