The Friends of Carnegie Castleton

Anonymous Friend in Deed

September 2016


Dear “B L”

I hope you read this.  I want to publicly thank you for your generous donation to “Friends of the Carnegie (Castleton)”.

I apologise for not having responded before, but I felt I had to wait until we had had our meeting and I had notified the members of your letter, plus the donation you enclosed with it.

You said in your letter you spent many pleasant hours as a schoolchild in another Carnegie Library without knowing the meaning of the inscription above the door.  We too didn’t know exactly what it meant until – in my own case – 2002 when we were asked by the then Council Director to form a group in order to “improve and expand” the library service in Castleton.

We did that and I’m proud to say we were very successful in improving the service and establishing Andrew Carnegie’s involvement, but whilst we saved the service, we were unable to save the building and, shortly after celebrating the Centenary in 2005 the library service was transferred and the building sold.

The group’s name at that time was “Friends of Castleton Library” or “FoCaL”.  We were sorry to disband after the building was auctioned, but there didn’t seem much point in continuing. It wasn’t until we saw what was happening to the building that some of us formed the above-named group and attempted to save it.

At the opening of the library in 1905 there was a picture of Andrew Carnegie on display, along with that of Alderman Colonel Henry Fishwick who was Mayor at the time, and who was instrumental in securing the monies from Andrew Carnegie to get the library built, plus Councillor Jackson, the Deputy Mayor who was invited to attend the ceremony.

We recreated that in 2005, with that same picture of Andrew Carnegie, and this time with the 2005 Mayor, Councillor Ashley Dearnley, and the Deputy Mayor Councillor Jean Hornby.

When we eventually occupy part of the building we hope to put that picture of Andrew Carnegie on display again in the place it belongs – the first Library building in Rochdale that he financed.  What better place could it be?

That is just a potted history of our activities.  It has taken a long time to get to this stage and sometimes we’ve been quite disheartened.  Then along comes someone, as you have, who does something that warms our hearts and encourages us to carry on.

Now the building is in safe hands again – thanks to Mr Crewe - we are assured that we can have a part of it to open a Heritage and Cultural Centre about Castleton, plus a small museum dedicated to Andrew Carnegie.  He was involved with railways and we are hoping the East Lancs Railway will start a regular run to include Castleton’s new station, which is a stone’s throw away from “our” building. 

As you say, Andrew Carnegie died in August 1919.  Wouldn’t it be good if we could achieve our aims by August 2019 and celebrate again.

Thank you once again for your donation.  Perhaps you will come along to the official opening after renovation and celebrate with us.

Yours sincerely

Sheila Whitworth (Secretary)

On behalf of ALL the members of Friends of the Carnegie (Castleton)

Contact Information

The Friends of Carnegie Castleton