Maidenhead Library turns 50 next month – and tickets are now available for a week of free events celebrating the town centre landmark, including exhibitions, author talks, live music, the Wombles and even a 1970s silent disco.
The Royal Borough’s Library Service is inviting the whole community to join in marking this golden anniversary in style during the week of 17 July, culminating in a day of celebrations on Friday 21 July.
Officially opened in July 1973 by Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, Maidenhead Library is today Grade II listed for its architectural design and remains a hub for the Maidenhead community and the borough’s library service.
During the week, there will be a range of activities for different ages, with full details available online or from the library. All events are free but most need to be booked on the council website or by calling the library on 01628 796969 as spaces are limited.
Four exhibitions will run throughout the week and do not need to be booked. One will explore the building’s history with old photos, facts and ephemera. Another will showcase artwork by the autism group which meets at the library. A third will showcase bestselling books since 1973, and a fourth will display memorabilia relating to the Wombles, who are celebrating 50 years of their first TV appearance.
If you have Womble memorabilia to loan for the exhibition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to a member of staff.
For adults, there will be talks by locally-based Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller novelist Gill Hornby on Monday 17 July, and on Wednesday 19 July by author and screenwriter Robert Thorogood, the creator of TV series Death in Paradise and author of The Marlow Murder Club. A talk exploring the architecture of the building and the 1970s will take place on Tuesday 18 July.
Children will be catered for too, with a fun workshop on Thursday 20 July by children’s writing duo Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler, followed on Friday 21 July by a Wombles story-time and crafts with costume characters and face-painting alongside retro children’s games and toys.
For the older generation, there will be a 1970s sing-along karaoke and reminiscence morning on Thursday 20 July, including a special visit from Womble characters plus some clips from their popular show as well as a celebratory cake.
The main celebrations will be on Friday 21 July, starting from 6pm with a bar and food followed at 6.30pm by the chance to experience the Vinyl Frontier, a fun and informative exploration of the story of 1973 through its top musical hits.
Then at 8pm the library will be transformed into a silent disco for adults, offering the unique opportunity to bust your moves on the library dancefloor to tracks from the 1970s, 1980s and 1973 – which might include some hits from the Wombles.
The fun will continue over the weekend, with live musical performances on the library balcony on Saturday 22 July from 11am, plus an Immersive Experiences dome (sessions must be booked in advance) in Library Square on both days, offering fun for children and adults alike.
Councillor Joshua Reynolds, Cabinet member for communities and leisure, said: “Our libraries are at the heart of the community in the Royal Borough, bringing together residents from across our community to places where they are able to benefit from a lot that the council has to offer.
“Maidenhead Library plays an important role in our community, its 50th anniversary gives people of all ages a chance to celebrate the library service and thank all those who make it possible – our dedicated staff and volunteers, as well as our partner parish councils, community groups and trusts.
“Over the decades, the service has broadened in provision and scope. Today libraries still promote literacy, learning and aspiration for all ages and remain the go-to place for books, but they also have a wide digital offer, deliver face-to-face customer services for the council, and provide community spaces that bring people and groups together in a safe space and promote inclusion.
“There is a fantastic range of activities for all ages to celebrate the half-century of Maidenhead Library in style, so make sure you book tickets early.”
The council would like to thank the Spoore Merry and Rixman Foundation, the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust, and Shanly Homes for contributing to these celebrations.