Li­brary has story to tell

Westerkirk’s link toTelford

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - INTIMATIONS - Sharon Lip­trott

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.

Pics by Barry Young

His­tory Li­brary and Telford.

Talk Writer Ju­lian Glover

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