The origin of the library

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Building of the library:

The Robinson Library was built in 1892 at a cost of £861 by John Dickinson (whose diaries are preserved in "Timble Man, Diaries of a Dalesman"). It was built on waste bog land opposite the Timble Inn, with the permission of the Duchy of Lancaster. for the benefit of the local community. The building was a gift from Robinson Gill of New York, USA. He had left the Timble area in 1851 for America to seek his fortune and he achieved both business and financial success from his stone yards established on the Hudson and East Rivers of New York. By 1890, as a citizen of New York and president of two New York banks, he wanted both to register his achievements and to provide his birthplace with a memorial. He chose to erect a building, the Robinson Library, named after his maternal ancestors who were wealthy yeomen residing at Swinsty Hall. The Library provided the area with an active social centre, a free school, a Sunday school, a library and a reading room. Robinson Gill also generously provided £100 worth of books (purchased in Leeds) and an endowment of £2 000 as an investment for the future upkeep of the building and to pay for a school teacher.

The original architects drawing of 1890 and Robinson Gill, the benefactor

A local committee of trustees, including John Dickinson, was elected to manage the library, which became a thriving institution, despite John Dickinson's earlier misgivings ("the population is so small and intellectual pursuits are unpopular. I don't know how the affair will go."). The population of the Washburn Valley at the time was 200. The school started in 1892 with 16 scholars. Regular evening proceedings were: Monday variety entertainment; Tuesday games; Wednesday reading exclusively; Thursday debate and discussion; Friday games and talk; Saturday reading.

Development of the library :

Unfortunately Robinson Gill died in 1897 and the family fortune declined. The original endowment money had been invested unwisely (in a Denver paper mill) and revenue for the upkeep of the library and hall dried up. The school finally closed in 1904. Until the late 1950's revenue from social and parish functions maintained Robinson Library as a village community centre. However with the changing pattern of village and town life the use and state of the building deteriorated. It suffered the ravages of weather and lack of funds over many years and many of the library's original assets, pictures and books were lost. There was also the fear that the Duchy of Lancaster will reclaim the land on which the library stands. The deed of 1890 gave the Duchy the right to claim the building and sell off the land as it saw fit, should the library cease to perform its original function as a community centre for the sole use of residents.

A massive restoration program was started with the aim of restoring the property to its former glory and to re-establish it as a Community Centre for Timble and the surrounding area. This has continued into the present century and. while not altering the building significantly, it is now a well-fitted village centre with all necessary modern facilities but with its original warm and friendly atmosphere maintained.

The Robinson Library today

In 2012 the Library celebrated its 120th anniversary with a village supper.

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