|Norwood Institute, Norwood Parade | Flickr User denisbin|
A meeting called by Mayor E. T. Smith in 1872 formed a committee to build the Norwood Institute. They raised funds and bought land at the south-west corner of The Parade and Osmond Terrace. There was great enthusiasm for a building to cover the whole site, but there was not enough money for this and the eastern half of the land was sold as the site for a post office. W. H. Abbott prepared plans for a smaller building, but even with a government grant of £750, funds were still inadequate and the committee called tenders for the erection of the two-storeyed front section only. A. C. Chapman's tender of £1,358 was accepted. In September 1875 Governor Musgrave laid the foundation stone. After the ceremony was over, Mrs Musgrave opened a bazaar at the town hall, and this raised £120.
The library opened in a small, top room in 1877 with twenty-five volumes and twenty-seven subscribers. In 1882 a contract was let to W. Pett and Sons to build the main hall, basement, and caretaker's quarters. The completed building was opened in May 1883 with a concert given by pupils of the Model School in the presence of Governor Robinson and the Minister of Education, the Hon. J. L. Parsons. The library was moved into the main hall in 1895 and within five years had 7,332 volumes and 356 subscribers.
The style of the building is typical of its day, both inside and out, except that the handsome cast-iron fence and gates. with arched wrought-iron lamp supports finely scrolled, were removed during the Second World War for a patriotic scrap iron drive.
- text by Daniel Manning from Kensington and Norwood Sketchbook | Rigby