Over a century ago, a Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, set out to enhance society by distributing his wealth to promote the access to knowledge of the ordinary members of the public. In the early 20th century, he donated £2,000 towards the cost of building a Public Library in Bridgend. Land was provided in Wyndham Street by the Earl of Dunraven who defrayed three quarters of the costs with the remaining quarter to be raised by public subscription.
The resulting building, in a renaissance Mannerist style, was started in 1906 and finished during 1907. It was built with Bath stone, red brick and blue forest stone as a Public Library in keeping with the Carnegie grant. It continued as a public library for 106 years and was designated a Grade II Listed Building around 1987.
During 2013, local organisation Bridgend Arts Ltd approached Bridgend Town Council with a suggestion to use the former library building to develop an Arts Centre in Bridgend.
Bridgend Town Council formed a small group of Councillors headed by Cllr Bob Burns to discuss with BCBC the various options it could negotiate to take over the former Public Library. BCBC through it’s Cabinet agreed in July 2013 to “Pursuing a formal and endorsed proposal from Bridgend Town Council, in respect of the Library Building, Wyndham Street, Bridgend with a view to securing a civic and cultural hub…”
The negotiations were concluded in just five months; then commenced a hectic period of internal refurbishment, redecoration in accordance with Listed Building requirements (Edwardian colour scheme ‘blue and white’) whilst keeping and re-positioning the historic and culturally important features. The Town Council moved into the building in January 2014 taking the historic chamber seating, pictures and artefacts from the previous Council Chamber in Glanogwr.
To enhance the building’s future use as an Arts Centre, the Town Council invested in art displays systems for picture hanging, audio visual equipment and other equipment to provide a flexible infrastructure. It was foreseen that the Civic function would be placed on the first floor keeping the ground floor as a refurbished, accessible hall, suitable for events such as exhibitions, poetry evenings, theatre, music and workshops that endorsed public life and events.
During 2015, the Town Council through a Heritage Lottery grant, in partnership with BCBC, carried out refurbishment to the front elevation of the building to ensure, the nearly 110 year old building is restored and for another 100 years of public service.