The Jerwood News

Updates from the Jerwood Library Trinity Hall

Black Cantabs exhibition at the Jerwood — 16/04/2019

Black Cantabs exhibition at the Jerwood

The Jerwood Library is hosting six photographic portraits of Cambridge’s inspirational black graduates from the ‘Black Cantabs: History Makers’ exhibition. They were originally displayed at Cambridge University Library in Autumn 2018. The exhibition was curated by the Black Cantabs Research Society, a student group dedicated to telling the lost or forgotten stories of Cambridge’s black alumni.

The portraits tell the stories of black students in Cambridge, from forgotten pioneers of the 18th century to successful students of today.

The six portraits on display in the Jerwood are:

George Bridgetower (1778–1860) was an Afro-European virtuoso violinist born in Poland to a African father and German mother. George Bridgetower by Henry Edridge, 1790

He attended Trinity Hall where he earned a Bachelor of Music in June 1811. As a child, Bridgetower gave violin concerts around Europe and his education was overseen by the Prince Regent (later George IV). In 1802 he travelled to Vienna and formed a friendship with Beethoven. They performed together and he dedicated his Kreutzer Sonata to him. One of the College’s meeting rooms is named after him.

Francis williamsFrancis Williams (ca. 1700—1770), was a poet and scholar and is believed (although records do not exist) to have been the first black student to attend the university. He was from a wealthy Jamaican family and travelled to Britain in the 1720s.

More recent graduates include actress Naomie Harris (1976- ), best known for her role as Moneypenny in the James Bond films.  She studied social and political sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge, graduating in 1998.

Writer Zadie Smith (1975- ) studied English Literature at King’s College, graduating in the late 1990s. Her first novel, White Teeth, was published to widespread critical acclaim in 2000.

The last two photos are of current and recent students. In 2018, black women students at Cambridge gathered for a photo organised by the African Caribbean Society to mark 70 years since the first black woman graduated from the University and since women were admitted as full members. This woman was Gloria Claire Carpenter, a Jamaican, who studied law at Girton College from 1945 to 1948. She later became a prominent social reformer. The photo contains more than 50 undergraduates and graduates posed in front of the Senate House.

Also in 2018, British grime artist Stormzy established ‘The Stormzy Scholarship’, which provide financial support for four British black students during their degree courses. He is pictured meeting current students.

The photos will be displayed in the Jerwood Library until the end of Easter term.

For more information on Cambridge’s Black Cantabs, see

Vacation borrowing — 26/11/2018

Vacation borrowing

Vacation borrowing begins on Monday 26 November so any books you borrow will be due back on Thursday 17 January 2019.

If you already have books on loan they can be renewed from iDiscover unless you’ve already had them for the maximum amount of time. You’ll have to bring these into the library and return them on the self-issue machine, but can borrow them again straight away.

Recalls are turned off during this period.

Have a great holiday!


Celebrating 20 years of the Jerwood Library — 13/11/2018

Celebrating 20 years of the Jerwood Library

On Friday 9th November students, Fellows and staff at Trinity Hall attended a special event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Jerwood Library. Architect and Trinity Hall alumnus, Tristan Rees Roberts gave a fascinating talk on how the new library came into being, and the challenges of building on such a small site next to the river. There was also an exhibition of photographs charting the construction process. The talk was followed by a drinks reception which featured a cake in the shape of the Jerwood Library, created by Regency Cakes.

The Jerwood Library as a cake

To coincide with the celebration, a photography competition was held which challenged students to take beautiful and creative photos of the library. The entries were displayed at the event and attendees voted for their favourite. The winning photo was taken by MPhil student Yanin Naiyachit.

Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate.

History of the Library

The Jerwood Library was commissioned to replace the student library in the Graham Storey room which had long outgrown the capacity to serve the expanding College. There were seats for only 24 students and it housed around 12,000 books on mobile shelving. Various locations within College were considered, but in the end, an area with a gardeners’ store, backing directly onto the River Cam was chosen. The library would be an extension of the Thornton building, built in 1909/10, which provided student accommodation on 3 floors with a large attic space above.

The site of the new building showing the old gardeners’ store. Photo: Freeland Rees Roberts


The work to build the Library took place in two phases. In Phase 1, student rooms in the Thornton building were converted into the library’s entrance hall and reading room. A computer room was also provided in the attic. This work was carried out in the Long Vacation of 1995.

The Library mid-construction. Photo: Freeland Rees Roberts

Construction of the new library building began on 19 Sept 1997 and was completed in time to open in Michaelmas term 1998. Shortly after its completion, the structure was awarded £1.4 million from the Jerwood Foundation, which praised it as a “bold and imaginative conception and design which has taken sensitive account of the building’s environment”. The College then named the Library after the Trust.

The official opening took place in May the following year by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Howe of Aberavon CH QC, an alumnus of Trinity Hall. The new building has space for over 100 readers and contains almost 30,000 books.

The Jerwood Library quickly became a tourist attraction on Garrett Hostel Lane and features as a major landmark on the itineraries of chauffeured punt tours, and in tourist guides and books about Cambridge.