An Andrew Carnegie Library is brought back to life, where plum trees used to grow


Working with award winning architects Hawkins Brown Associates LLP and Main contractor Osborne Construction, 63 secondary glazed units have been installed during the remodelling and refurbishment of Plumstead Library, to make it more thermally efficient and to create quieter spaces for the local community user groups.

This Grade II Listed building in the Royal Borough of Greenwich is of great architectural and historic interest. It is one of the earliest funded libraries by Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish/American philanthropist in the US and British empire in the time of Queen Victoria and Edward VII, which officially opened in 1904.

Following on from the Historic England listing in 2016, the Royal Borough of Greenwich decided to use the building as a champion for the Plumstead Urban Framework, making it one of the critical elements of the regeneration of the local High Street and surrounding area.

Occupying a corner plot on the busy A206, Plumstead High Street, with high volume traffic and London transport passing by, noise was of great concern. In addition, the single glazed metal framed original windows did little to prevent heat loss or draughts, which was going to hamper the sustainability of the building and add to the on-going running costs. As the building is Grade II Listed, the original windows could not be changed, so a reversible adaptation had to be found. Hawkins Brown Associates decided that Selectaglaze secondary glazing would pose the most effective solution to improve the thermal efficiency as well as dramatically reduce the noise ingress.

On the north elevation, facing the high street, the library has two magnificent sweeping bow windows, which occupy the majority of the ground floor. On the first floor and the return elevation facing east, where the offices and museum once were, there are a number of metal single glazed windows in various configurations.

A total of 63 Selectaglaze units across the 2 facades were installed, which included Series 10-3 pane horizontal sliders, Series 80 – 3 pane horizontal sliders and more. Each sweeping bay overlooking the high street were built up with seven Series 20 vertical sliders, transom coupled to seven Series 45 side hung casements. This configuration complimented the sightlines of the primary windows and allowed full access for cleaning, maintenance and natural ventilation if required.

Cllr Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: “As a building for the local community, the Plumstead Centre was designed through close collaboration and discussion with residents. I am incredibly proud of the Centre and the new year-round opportunities it will offer residents through its flexible and adaptable design. Elements of past, present and future Plumstead have been seamlessly embedded within the building.”

After months of highly skilled refurbishment works, the Library re opened in early 2020, providing the local community with spaces for health and fitness, sports, performing arts and library all under one roof. It is set to become a sustainable and cultural destination in the Plumstead area and a great legacy for one of the remaining Carnegie libraries in the UK.

With fifty years’ experience, and Royal Warrant Holders since 2004, Selectaglaze has vast experience of working with the intricacies of Listed buildings.

Contact Selectaglaze on 01727 837271. E-mail: or visit:


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