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Bethnal Green Library Centenary Memory Box

This digital Memory Box has been set up to collect all of the wonderful memories that Bethnal Green Library has given to you. Whether it's a book that changed your life, a staff member you remember or just that the library gave you fond and unforgettable memories, we'd love to hear from you!

Email your memory to and we'll add it below.


"Being taken for Story Time by Globe School, and visiting with my mum to borrow books.  Queuing at the big shiny wooden desk." 


"In 1975 I started Teaching at Beatrice Tate school for children with severe learning difficulties, in St Jude’s rd.  Although none of the children could read, they loved Story Time at the Library and I use to love taking them.
Later on, when I had my own children, we would spend many happy hours in the library, and they loved choosing their own books.  As a result, they both learned to read very easily, and still love books today, in their 30’s.

Now, I take my 2 year old granddaughter to Story Time and to borrow books.  She loves it.  I particularly value the cosy, family friendly feeling and the comfy sofas and the old fashioned toilets.  Let look forward to another 100 years!"
Lesley Murphy


"Bethnal Green Library is, and always has been, a peaceful & comfortable haven in a busy borough."

"I remember coming to this library when I was eight  years old with my friends and mum. I loved the feeling of it, and the quiet. We loved the Famous Five books and taking them  to the desk and getting the books stamped to take home to read. It still stays in my mind many happy days here when I was a child."
Gloria divider
"I was born in 1951 at the East End maternity home. My Dad was a fireman and we lived in a flat above the old fire station on the corner of Globe Road. I couldn't wait to go to school, and from the age of three, my dad bought me a comic every day, so by the time I went to school I could read extremely well, bearing in mind we had no television in those days. I loved reading and regularly would read the Daily Mirror each day. 

In 1956 I started school at Globe Primary, my sister was born, so Mum was kept busy.  She allowed me to walk from the Fire Station to Barmy Park, and into the library, which I did three times a week, each time picked up three books, mostly Enid Blyton, and would read them all in a couple of days. This was my routine for years and gradually went on to the adult library. The library used to show children's artwork which was done in the local schools, even though I was an avid reader, I could not draw to save my life, but lied to my Mum and Dad that I had a piece showing there.  They went along, and obviously it was not there, my excuse was that it had been too good and had been taken down. 

That library and the playground was my life for many years, I will never forget the start it gave me, and I am still an avid reader. I have now moved away from Bethnal Green, but the sight of the Library leaves a warm feeling in my mind, and I hope that it will continue for many years to come."
Remember it all so clearly,& dearly, spent many hours in and visiting too, Husband Stan used to call in on his way back from work came up from Bethnal Green underground straight to to Library brought enough books for us all. wonderful memories. 
Anon.dividerLived in the buildings behind. Remember going in there has a kid in the 1950s and Roller skating around the front of the library loved it
Pauline Mcness

Loved going to Bethnal Green and Bancroft Road library. Also, the Local history library at Limehouse in the early 80’s
Dawn Barsender
Spent many hours in the Reference library.
Dennis John Parker

I have visited this building in younger years and played in barmy park as an infant together with floating boats on the pond. In later years played in netball matches on the courts there and guess what just ordered a set of Milly Molly Mandy for my darling granddaughter Ellie. Memories being passed down to another generation.
Amelia Wright
My bedroom backed onto the back of the library spent a lot of time there on a rainy day.
John Eaton

dividerA true beacon of hope
Jackie Powell
dividerMe and my brother spent many hours sitting quietly in the chair as you went the library while my mum spent ages looking for her many books she loved to read, such a lovely memory
Patricia Levy

dividerI lived about 8-10 minutes from this library, I have very fond happy memories of this library, spent many hours there, read many books, Enid Blyton books were one of my favourite books as a child, then I progressed to to many famous novels. The most upsetting book I saw was on on World War 2, I have never forgotten a certain picture I saw.
Bernadette BlaneydividerPractically lived there when I was a kid. I read just about every book in the children’s section and then started on the adults. One abiding memory is reading the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and Bluebeard terrifying me!
Sue Cripps

dividerGreat write-up about the library and its history by Kate Thompson (above). I used to use it as a kid with my school and my biggest memory, I am ashamed to say, is visiting the reference library upstairs to look at the semi-naked pictures of African ladies. My school-friends and I couldn't believe our eyes, while our parents at home thought we were busy studying 
Peter Thurgood

dividerMy grandparents, my parents, myself and my daughters were avid readers and spent many hours in this beautiful library.
Linda Horncastle Sadler

dividerLove this place…
Steve NightingaledividerIt was a magical place. Who could have thought in the 40's that an IPad or Laptop could contain as much information as all those technical books displayed there in. I can start at Thomas the Tank Engine and proceed through my formative years to the classics . I read all of the Dennis Wheatley fiction ( black magic) The first one I read was The Haunting of Toby Jugg and I was hooked. Forty books later I had read all he had published. One other memory springs to mind I wish to draw horses so I ordered a book by George Stubbs when they informed me it was in the Library I was surprised by the size of the book it was almost a big as me and had come from the National Library in York. I spent loads of hours in the reading room. This was a regular hangout for the downtrodden in the area and it nit at all strange to see them asleep in the warm room with their head on the bench/desk with the newspaper or magazine you were after between their head and the desk. Upstairs was the reference library nowdays you would just Google the information
Henry Hardy

dividerI lived around the corner in Sutton dwellings in the early 70s use the library for myself and then for my daughters till we moved to where we are now in Bow, I loved the libraries from the time I was issued my first ticket as a child and use the little library on Roman Rd., where I grew up, I do not like the Idea stores I do not feel they have that same warmth and friendliness that I felt in the libraries..
Jackie HarrisJackie HarrisdividerI also lived in Sutton Dwellings in 1948 , I went to the library, when I was about 10, I used to read to the smaller children in the reading corner, also helped behind the desk stamping books being taken out , and being returned. Loved going there .I’m 80 this year , love my memories of that time .
Patricia Steedman Livesey

Spent hours in here as a youngster.
Elaine Bevan


My three children are now 37, 32, and 30. We came here regularly when they were little and browsed the shelves. It was always a treat to come here after school (two of them went to Bangabhandu). They savoured the process of choosing a book, taking it home, proudly reading it, and even more proudly returning it. They all three accordingly loved reading and all three have university degrees. There is no experience to come anywhere near a library visit for encouraging a love of books. This is a hugely invaluable experience for children and adults alike. I still feel a sense of excitement coming here to this beautiful, scented building, with its sense of peace, history, and love of learning. This library has expanded our horizons immeasurably. Here’s to the next 100 years and thank you Bethnal Green Library!
Date of Memory: 1987 – Present Day 
Gail Stevens 


My Memories are not so much as a user; I was the project manager during the recent refurbishment projects.  

New slate and glazed roofs 

  • Lift installation 
  • Refurbishment of two floors at the front of the library to create lettable space 
  • New toilet facilities for the lettable space 
  • Various improvements to back-office staff facilities 

Working on such a fabulous Grade II listed building really motivated me and the construction team to provide the best finishes we could.  

My personal favourite is the lead work carried out between the back of the library and glazed roof on its day of completion. It really was a first-class piece of work. 

Ps. I shall see if I can locate photos of the completed lead work. 

Date of memory: 2018-ish 

Steve Linwood