Library has story to tell
Westerkirk’s link toTelford
A historic library backed by the famed engineer Thomas Telford will be at the heart of a special event on Monday night.
Westerkirk Library in remote Bentpath, Eskdale, is the oldest library still in use in Scotland.
Telford – born at Glendinning, in the parish of Westerkirk, in 1757 – left money to the library in his will and much of the collection was bought with this legacy.
Now the library’s remarkable own story will be thrown into the spotlight with a visit from the author Julian Glover.
The writer’s new book Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain has been serialised on Radio 4’s Book of the Week.
And he has accepted an invitation from the Westerkirk Parish Library Trust to talk about Telford at the Buccleuch Centre in Langholm.
Mairi Jammeh, vicechairman of the library trust, said: “Glover’s biography of Telford has been described as evocative and we hope people will come to hear his talk.”
The library was created for antimony miners at Jamestown in 1793. The mine owners and several individuals presented them with 23 books.
And it was given a boost when Telford made his bequest.
The £1,000 he left was invested and the interest used to buy books – with a further £1,700 added in 1851.
The bequest meant a great number of books were bought for the library. These are bound in leather and tooled in gold with Westerkirk Library and Telford Legacy on the spine.
By the 1920s the library held 8,000 books. Nowadays the thousands of books are looked after by the members of the library trust.
Although opening times are limited to one hour on the first Monday of each month, the library stands as a testament to a famous son who never forgot his roots.
Telford had a prolific career building canals, aqueducts, bridges, roads, harbours, churches and buildings across the UK.
A memorial to its benefactor stands outside the library and it is included on the Thomas Telford Trail. Tickets for Mr Glover’s talk are on sale at the Buccleuch Centre and the event is free for anyone under 18.
History Library and Telford.
Talk Writer Julian Glover