A remarkable photograph of the laying of the foundation stone at Penarth Public Library in 1904 has been unearthed by Penarth’s head librarian Marcus Payne and his staff.
The original 1904 photo has been re-published to mark “World Photo Day” and shows the foundation stone-laying ceremony carried out by Samuel Thomas, chairman of Penarth Urban District Council’s Library Committee, on September 10th 1904
It was a time when ladies still wore hats – and men wore, depending on their social rank, top hats, bowlers, avant-gard trilbys or the humble cloth cap. The builder’s scaffolding is all made of wooden poles – not steel tubes – and there isn’t a safety helmet or a high-viz yellow jacket in sight.
When the foundation stone was laid the ground floor walls of the library had yet to reach window-sill height and the main entrance – opening onto Stanwell Road – had yet to be built. (Today’s side entrance onto Rectory Road is a later addition) .The library was a gift to the people of Penarth – its construction having been funded largely by the Carnegie Trust on land donated by the Earl of Plymouth.
Samuel Thomas was the chairman of Penarth District Council who two years earlier in 1902 had opened Alexandra Gardens on what was to have been the day of the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (daughter of the King of Denmark) . The coronation was postponed because King Edward had to have an operation for appendicitis – but neverthess there was no postponement of the Alexandra Garens opening.
World Photo Day – is an Australian-inspired celebration of photographywhich is held to “inspire thousands of photographers across the planet to share a single photo with a simple purpose: to share their world with the world.”