Rastrick Library was built in 1912 and was designed by a well-known local architect, R F Rogerson. The impressive stone building retains many grand original features, but the building previously suffered with poor accessibility, with a set of steep steps making it difficult for those with wheelchairs, pushchairs or mobility problems to visit the library.
A project to improve the access has been planned for some time, as a joint venture between Calderdale Council and The Friends of Rastrick Library – a voluntary community group dedicated to increasing the usage of this popular library.
Work was able to progress following a successful bid by the Friends group to Big Local, a National Lottery Funded project. Funding of £60,000 was allocated to the project, with additional funding provided by the Council.
Work began in 2019, but its completion was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The library reopened in July for the first time since March 2020, meaning visitors could use the improved access for the first time.
The quality of the work has also been recognised by the Brighouse Civic Trust, as the library access improvements have been awarded a certificate of excellence for the standard of workmanship and the overall design of the work.
In addition to access improvements, work has also taken place to the gardens in front of the library. The area around the War Memorial has also been redesigned and landscaping in the sunken garden at the front of the library is planned for the coming months.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Coun Jenny Lynn, said: “Rastrick Library is a beautiful building with many historic features, including original carvings and engravings. It’s an important and well-loved facility for the local community, but unfortunately the only access to the library was previously via a set of steep steps, making access difficult for many.
“In partnership with the Friends of Rastrick Library group, we’ve had long-standing ambitions to improve this access and I’m pleased that these plans are now a reality.
“The new ramp access has been specially designed to fit in with the historic building and visitors to the newly reopening library can now enjoy these improved facilities and landscaping work.”
John Sheppard, Treasurer of the Friends of Rastrick Library, said: “Rastrick library is a very busy community resource. Friends and Library staff have long been aware that some residents accessed with great difficulty or were simply excluded by the original steps of 1912.
“We were so grateful to everyone involved with the project design and build and to Rastrick Big Local for providing us with the grant of £60,000. We look forward to the Library serving all of Rastrick for many more years to come.”