Posted: Fri 8th Jul 2022

Gladstone’s Library warden retires after 25 years with the institution

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jul 8th, 2022

The long-serving warden of a Flintshire library has retired after 25 years with the institution.

Peter Francis, Warden of Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden for over a quarter of a century, stepped down this week after overseeing the independent, residential library’s evolution over three decades.

The library is the UK’s only Prime Ministerial library and a rare example of a residential library, featuring three Victorian reading rooms, 26 bedrooms and an on-site restaurant.

Reverend Professor Francis said: “In our time, the fabric of the building itself changed; in 2006, large scale renovations began once we had fundraised enough money.

Food for Thought restaurant was created so that we could start welcoming people from the village. 

A new and bigger chapel was built and two lecture rooms and new accessible rooms too. 

“There were other changes. Visitors originally had to pay to become Readers on an annual basis.”

“They needed two references from ‘pillars of the community’ such as a Justice of the Peace, a doctor or member of the clergy.”

“This presented barriers to a large proportion of potential scholar but I convinced the Trustees and Library staff to create a simpler system to enable more people to apply for a Reader’s ticket.”

Gladstone’s Library is now sustained by a balance of income from bedroom bookings, the restaurant, conferences and donors.

Reverend Professor Francis added: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have lived and worked here for 25 years.”

“Not only do we have many happy memories to take away with us but we will also stay in touch with staff and friends.”

“We might be leaving Gladstone’s Library but Gladstone’s Library will never, ever leave us.”

As a charity, Gladstone’s Library is supported by a board of Trustees.

A spokesperson for the board said: “The Trustees of Gladstone’s Library wish to express their deepest and heartfelt gratitude to Peter Francis on the occasion of his retirement as Warden of Gladstone’s Library.”

“Peter has dedicated 25 years to transforming the Library into the much-loved and important institution it is today, making it a beacon of Gladstonian liberalism in the world, as well as creating a welcoming place to nourish mind, body, and soul.”

“The Trustees will miss his thoughtful, inspiring, and outstanding leadership.”

“We would also like to thank Helen for her steadfast support and encouragement to Peter and the Library, and we wish them both the very best of health and happiness for the future.”

Reverend Professor Francis added: “I’m going to miss the excitement of meeting new writers, as well as political and theological debate – in fact, the experience of this unique liberal environment and the care its staff. I can’t thank them enough for your help and support.”

“We as a family will so miss this extraordinary place and its people who have shaped our lives. We might be leaving Gladstone’s Library but Gladstone’s Library will never, ever leave us.”

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