Fleetwood is home to many beautiful and historic buildings which offer fascinating insight into the past. The Former Fielden Institute and Library on Dock Street is one of them.
This Grade II Listed Building is on Dock Street, Fleetwood, not far from the market. It was built in 1863 and designated as listed over 100 years later, on 31 March 1978.
It’s now in private ownership. The owners have made a great job of bringing the facade of this beautiful building back to life.
The Former Fielden Institute and Library on Dock Street
First – The Whitworth Institute
The building was originally built in 1863 by Benjamin Whitworth. According to the 1861 census, he was a Manchester cotton broker and ship owner, and lived on Queens Terrace in Fleetwood at the time.
It was the site of a former Mechanic’s Institute. The new building was to have a similar role in offering a social centre for working people and a place of education and recreation.
The design was by builders Thomas Atkinson who built many of the original Fleetwood buildings.
It’s in the Venetian Gothic style, built in red brick with ashlar dressings, on two storeys with an ashlar parapet. You can still see ‘Public Hall and Reading Room’ carved above the entrance, and the year ‘AD 1863’.
Next – The Fielden Institute and Town Library
In 1887 the building was bought by Samuel Fielden who gave it to the town as a library. It was gifted to the town on condition that the Improvement Commissioners adopted the Free Public Libraries Act.
After a period of indecision they did this, and it became the Fielden Free Library. The change is minuted in their records book on 23 August 1887.
The upstairs room, later the lending library, was Fleetwood’s main public meeting hall for over 20 years. Sometimes over 350 people would attend public events and the original musicians gallery was still visible above the library issue desk. The building was used as such until 1988.
The Co-op Hall on East Street, capable of holding over 600 people, then became the main meeting hall.
Incorporating Fleetwood Museum
In 1976, still in its use as a library, the building was altered to accommodate Fleetwood Maritime Museum. The galleries were in the basement, which formerly contained the billiards room from the old Fielden Institute.
The Museum remained there until 1991. Then it moved to its current premises in the former Town Hall on Queen’s Terrace.
And Currently… Private Ownership
After the Library relocated in 1988 and the Museum moved in 1991, the building passed into private ownership.
It was briefly an advertising agency in the late 1990’s.
Today, it is owned by private owners as a residential house.
Find out More
If your name is Fielden you might be interested in the Fielden Society
While you’re here…
Have a look at the Visit Fleetwood website homepage for more of the latest updates.
Love the Fylde Coast? Sign up for our weekly email newsletter. Packed full of interesting things it arrives in your inbox all 52 weeks of the year.
Join us on Facebook at our Visit Fylde Coast Facebook Group
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @visitFyldeCoast