One of the most welcoming public spaces in Manly is the Manly Library, where you can also find John Macritchie, the Manly Council Historical and History Librarian for the Manly Library. He was kind of enough to spend some time with us and discuss the library, the programs offered for the community, and a bit of history of the Manly area.
In the video, I talk with John about a range of topics related to Manly and the library. One of the things I found most incredibly and interesting was his description of the history of the region. Specifically, we discussed the moments that transformed Manly into the town it is today.
Going back to the Victorian times, the beaches were off limits during the day time. As a result, Manly was quite a sleepy little town with only a handful of residents. Over time, however, the public outcry was enough for the local government to open the beaches during the day in 1905 to anyone with a bathing costume on.
Very quickly after that, it grew into quite the strip – Manly attracted many people visiting the beach and this exploded even further in the 1920s when the Spit Bridge was opened and it became possible to get to Sydney directly without having to go around. Manly grew rapidly and so too did other nearby suburbs like Seaforth and Balgowlah.
Another fascinating part of Manly history that I was keen to hear more about was the Manly Wharf and the ferry. Originally just a pier in the cove, the whole area grew with restaurants and shopping up and along it. At one time, it was even home to a small amusement park that took the place of the cargo pier that closed when the Spit Bridge opened.
Our conversation with John was fascinating and one I would love to revisit in the near future. If you are planning a trip to the Manly Library, be sure to stop in and say hi to John when next you are there. You’ll find a frequently updated library with Free WiFi, facilities for digital books and electronic databases and frequent programs for the community including a large kids section, regular baby bounce sessions, and genealogy sessions for older members of the community.
The library is open every day of the week except for Public Holidays – you can see all of their hours on their website here.