This film is part of Free

Building Chichester's new County Library

The ancient city of Chichester's new and very modern public library rises from its concrete foundations in this fascinating film from the mid 1960s

Amateur film 1965 15 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


We start with the foundations of the new library being dug to a circular pattern. Steel rods reinforce the concrete which is laid in the circle. An inner core of brick arches is then erected after which we see the arrival of many large concrete ribs. Once these are fitted the building starts to take shape. Work on the interiors, the glazing and the roof, which is covered in copper sheeting, are completed before council workers and officials arrive to view the finished library.

This film was made by B Snelling, whose father, John G Snelling, owned the company that built the new library. West Sussex Library, as the building is known today, is now a Grade II listed structure. It was designed by the county architect, F R Steele, and overseen by his successor, B Peters, who took up his post in 1964. The building engineers were Ove Arup and Partners, and the construction was carried out by John G Snelling Ltd. Asa Briggs, the historian and Vice-Chancellor elect of the University of Sussex, officially opened the building on the 24th January 1967.