Over the years many of the rooms at Bromley House Library have been rented out, tenants have included photographers, basket makers, wine and spirits merchants, solicitors, the Nottingham Law Society Library, the Thoroton Society, a Natural History Museum, and yes, a Billiard Room.
This seems to have been in place from shortly after the Library took over Bromley House. Only recently have we known for certain that it was on the first floor of what we now refer to as the Garden Wing. It was accessed by a staircase next to the apartment where the Librarian lived ‘free from rent and taxes’. The relationship between the Library and the Billiard Room was not always an easy one, with the Library Committee having to express their ‘high disapprobation’, when shots were fired there and in the garden. The person employed as a marker was also told that he was not allowed to drink alcohol whilst on the premises. One feels that the Ladies Bible Group, meeting here at the same time, would have thoroughly endorsed the Committee’s ruling.
How long were they here? It is difficult to know for certain, but the room that they were using became the ‘New Library Room’ in 1882, when the little room that we use as a kitchen was built to connect the first floors of the two parts of Bromley House. This was in use as a Reading Room until 1959 when the Library decided to let out all of the Garden Wing as a means of gaining extra income, moving the book collections around and taking back into use the attic floor which had been let as a photographic studio.
And so over a period of time the wing was used by Wimpey, Burger King, and then Nando’s, and now the first and second floors are back in the Library’s possession and we will again have a ‘New Reading Room’, in that wing.
So, the builders are starting this week, and plan to be with us until 5th July. The first floor will include a new coffee area, toilets and staff accommodation (ie offices, not an apartment free from rent and taxes) and on the second floor there will be the reading room, with windows looking into the garden. We’re looking forward to the extra space that we will have, both for books and people, in a bright and sunny room.