Battersea Library is now a Grade II listed building and a library run by Better and Wandsworth Council. It is located a few hundred metres up Lavender Hill from Clapham Junction, and is a well-known sight in the area. However, few people know about its history, and the details involving its construction in the first place. 


From 1850 to 1880, the population of Battersea increased significantly from around 12,000 to 107,000 inhabitants. Battersea at the time was much larger than Wandsworth, and was unhappy about being run by a Wandsworth Board. However, in 1887 Battersea was able to detach itself from Wandsworth and govern itself as the Battersea Vestry. One of their first major construction projects was the library.


After a design competition, local architect Edward Mountford was selected to design and oversee the construction of the building. James Holloway began the construction of the building, but died before the end of the construction. His brothers’ company (Holloway Brothers) finished the building. Baron John Lubbock laid the first stone in May 1889, and the Library was opened in March 1890 by Anthony John Mundella, the Member of Parliament for Sheffield at the time.


The building was extended at the rear in 1897, and since then no major modifications have been made to the building’s original structure. 


In 1924, a separate Battersea Reference Library was constructed on a road just behind the original Library. Both libraries are now connected, although most people use the central entrance on Lavender Hill.


The central library’s interior has been renovated many times, most recently in 2014, when the children’s library was moved to the rear extension and given a new interior. Since then, however, the library has not been modified, and continues to lend books despite the current Covid-19 pandemic.