literary Institute was formed in Acton in 1857 with a reading room
and lending library in Mill Hill Grove, which was open two evenings
a week. Subscription was 5/- a year. By 1875 the Institute was renting
a room in Acton Local Board Offices where Daily and Weekly newspapers
were available. The reading room was open throughout the year and
had 1400 books in circulation.
There were also small libraries in the Working Men's Clubs at Steyne,
and Acton Green. In 1887 the Acton School Board decided to provide
books for older children to borrow.In October 1888 a great storm flooded
the Board Offices at Steyne causing the books to be lost and the Institute
to close. However, the Acton Local Board was already discussing the
provision of a free library.
The Public Libraries Acts of 1855 -1889 allowed for the setting up
of a library paid for from a 1d rate. There were campaigners on both
sides. Acton ratepayers were already facing increased rates to pay
for a new drainage and sewerage scheme and for the purchase and laying
out of Acton Park. A referendum took place in 1887 and the proposal
was lost by a significant majority.
The Local Government Act of led to the formation of the Middlesex
County Council and from 1895, the Acton Urban District Council, led,
from 1898 to 1990 by E F Hunt as Chairman. The Councillors wanted
to give Acton some standing as a town. A public Libray fitted the
Smith of the Philanthropic Society , who had been instrumental in
obtaining a grant from Passmore Edwards towards building a cottage
hospital, subsequently obtained a promise from him of £4000
towards the costs of a library.
On 4 January 1898 the Public Libraries Act of 1892 was adopted by
the Council. They paid £850 to the Trustees of the Baptist Church
for land at the corner of Winchester Street and the High Street applied
to the Local Government Board for permission to raise loans of £850
and a further £5500 to cover costs.