1899 – Library & Central Technical Schools, Truro, Cornwall

Architect: Silvanus Trevail


The funding of Passmore Edwards led to the construction of firstly the Library, in 1896 and then the adjacent schools in 1899. Buildings funded by Edwards regularly got illustrated in The Building News, which he owned from the 1860s onwards. In London he endowed the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Mary Ward Centre and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Edwards founded 24 libraries in London, the home counties and Cornwall. In 14 years over 70 major buildings were established as a direct result of bequests from John Passmore Edwards. Many of these still exist today.

Listed Grade II.

“On October 25, in the presence of a large gathering, representative of the county of Cornwall, the Earl of Mount Edgcombe opened the Cornwall Central Technical Schools, Truro, which have been erected, through the munificence of Mr. J. Passmore Edwards, as a memorial to the late Sir Charles Lemon, Bart., who was an ardent advocate of technical education. The building is said to be the finest monument ever erected to the memory of a Cornishman, and it certainly reflects credit on the architect, Mr. S. Trevail. F.R.I.R.A., and the committee who have been associated with him in establishing the schools.

The style selected by the architect is English Renaissance of the Later Tudor period, and the prominent materials are Bath stone and Plymouth limestone. Inside the main doorway there is an outer porch, 10ft. by Sft., divided by a teak and plate-glass screen from an inner hall, 10ft. wide, running through the building. Kight and left of this are corridors leading to the physical laboratory, 20ft. by 1 !ft. ijin. .• the main chemical laboratory, 37ft. by 20ft. : principal’s room and a balance room, each 12ft. by 10ft. : general science classroom, 21ft. by 20ft. ; and a domestic room, 29ft. by 22ft., for the teaching of cooking, dress- making, &c. ; and a lecture-room, oOft. by 20ft. The first and upper floors are approached by a staircase of steel and concrete, and the flooring of the porch, entrance hall, and corridor on each floor is of Venetian mosaic. The staircase windows are in stained glass, and each comprises nine lights. The first floor contains mechanical drawing school, 2;tft. by 22ft. ; secretary’s and committee room, 21ft. by 20ft. ; and a suite of five science classrooms, 21ft’. by 20ft., intended mostly for county use. There is also a suite of chambers on this floor for the caretaker and his wife. The upper floor is devoted almost entirely to the purposes of art. The chief room is an art gallery and museum, 50ft. by 20ft., containing a South Kensington loan exhibit, supplemented by local gentlemen. “