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People’s memories sought as Norfolk library celebrates 50 years

North Walsham library.  Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

North Walsham library. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2016

A Norfolk library is marking its 50th anniversary with a week of special events, children’s activities and celebrations, from May 19.

M.A.L Clifton officially opening the new North Walsham library 50 years ago. Photo: ArchantM.A.L Clifton officially opening the new North Walsham library 50 years ago. Photo: Archant

And staff at North Walsham library, including manager Paul Cosham, want to hear from any users with special memories of the building over the past half-century.

The distinctive building on New Road, in the shape of an eight-pointed star, cost £14,274 and was officially opened on May 23, 1968.

It replaced a library service which had operated for many years in a former billiards room behind the King’s Arms pub in the town centre.

It opened with a total of 14,000 books including, for the first time, a children’s section with 2,000 titles. There was also a new reference section.

Two months after the opening, in July 1968, the North Walsham branch received its own mobile library vehicle to make four-weekly visits to surrounding north Norfolk villages. A van had previously operated from Norwich.

Within a few weeks of the official opening adult membership was well over 3,000 and more than 460 children had joined.

A display of old photographs and newspaper cuttings relating to the library will be on show all week and staff hope to use old-style rubber stamps for issuing books as well as membership cards in “wooden coffins”.

A special ‘bounce and rhyme’ party for young children is planned during the week and other ideas under consideration are a children’s dress-up event and a book sale.

On Wednesday, May 23, the actual anniversary date, there will be a special celebration for former staff and invited guests.

Meanwhile, North Walsham’s most famous schoolboy, Horatio Nelson, will be remembered in music, word and song in a special two-hour talk, a world premiere, as part of the celebrations.

Norfolk Hero - The Songs of Lord Nelson, The Victory and Trafalgar will start the week’s events on the afternoon of Saturday, May 19.

Singers and musicians from the local folk scene will perform traditional ballads, broadsides and tunes as well as shanties, monologues, and contemporary poems and songs.

Tickets are £5, include refreshments, and are available from the library.

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