Fleetwood is home to many beautiful and historic buildings which offer fascinating insight into the past – like this one on Dock Street.
It’s now in private ownership and the owners have made a great job of bringing the facade of this beautiful building back to life.
You’ll find this Grade II Listed Building on Dock Street, Fleetwood, not far away from the market. It was built in 1863 and designated as listed over 100 years later on 31 March 1978.
The building was originally built in 1863 by Benjamin Whitworth who, according to the 1861 census, was a Manchester cotton broker and ship owner, and lived on Queens Terrace in Fleetwood at the time.
It was the site of a former Mechanic’s Institute and the new building was to have a similar role in offering a social centre for working people and a place of education and recreation.
The design was by builders Thomas Atkinson who built many of the original Fleetwood buildings, and it’s in the Venetian Gothic style.
It’s built in red brick with ashlar dressings, on two storeys with an ashlar parapet. You’ll still see ‘Public Hall and Reading Room’ carved above the entrance and the year ‘AD 1863’.
Fielden Institute and Town Library
In 1887 the building was bought by Samuel Fielden who gave it to the town as a library, which it continued to be until 1988.
It was gifted to the town on condition that the Improvement Commissioners adopted the Free Public Libraries Act.
After a period of indecision they did this and it became the Fielden Free Library as is minuted in their records book on 23 August 1887.
The upstairs room, later the lending library, was Fleetwood’s main public meeting hall for over 20 years, sometimes holding over 350 people and the original musicians gallery was still visible
above the library issue desk.
The Co-op Hall on East Street, capable of holding over 600, became the main meeting hall.
In 1976 the building was altered to accommodate the Fleetwood Maritime Museum – the galleries were in the basement, which formerly contained the billiards room from the old Fielden Institute.
The Museum remained there until 1991 when it moved to its current premises in the former Town Hall on Queen’s Terrace.
After the Library relocated in 1988 and the Museum moved in 1991 the building passed into private ownership.
It was briefly an advertising agency in the late 1990’s.
Today, it is owned by private owners as a residential house.
Find out More
If your name is Fielden you might be interested in the Fielden Society