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Former Dudley School of Art and Free Library

The Grade II listed red brick and terracotta building was constructed in 1883 by Bateman & Corser of Birmingham as the Dudley School of Art and Free Library and was officially opened on 29th July 1884. The building brought under one roof two much-needed institutions "to form a great school for mental culture

Two separate entrances are provided for the Free Library (later Museum) off Priory Street and the School of Art and Art Gallery from St James’s Road.  The Free Library went from strength to strength, but problems with overcrowding began to arise.  With the benefit of a grant of £7,500 from Andrew Carnegie, the benefactor of hundreds of libraries in this country and the United States, and a new library building in St James’s Road was opened in 1909.  A few years later, in December 1912, the vacated old Free Library became the new Geological Museum where the valuable collection of fossils would be housed and displayed.    


The building housed the School of Art from 1884 until 1966 and produced notable talent, including the local artist Percy Shakespeare. It ran classes in: freehand drawing, shading, geometry, perspective, architecture, clay modelling, ornamental design, historic styles of ornament, oil painting, watercolour painting, china painting, machine construction and drawing, building construction and also embroidery, jewellery, enamelling, silversmithing, lettering, woodcarving and illuminating.  The School continued to flourish, but questions about the future location of the School were being raised as early as 1935 the Art School left the building in 1966, making space for the new Geological Gallery. The building was thereafter, until its closure in 2016, the home of the Museum and Art Gallery. 


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Former Dudley School of Art and Free Library
Former Dudley School of Art and Free Library
Heritage Open Day Guide

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