The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History

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Updated:  17 May 2012 

Frederick Charles Percy Cole was born at Worcester in 1879, the youngest son of Mr John and Mrs Sarah Ann Cole, respectively coach smith and laundress.

He commenced his career at Worcester Library.  In 1898 he was appointed as a sub-librarian at the Huddersfield Public Library and Art Gallery.   He quickly rose to become the Chief Librarian, a post he held for 15 years, where he had control of 37 school libraries and was responsible for starting a music library.

Mr Cole was one of 95 applicants interviewed for the post of Borough Librarian at Plymouth and was appointed on Thursday November 27th 1924.   He started work early the following year.

During the Second World War he took over the responsibilities of Curator of the City Museum & Art Gallery while Mr A A Cumming was away on active service in the Royal Artillery.  The Library was destroyed by bombing during the Blitz of  March 1941, when some 75,000 books were lost, and Mr Cole had the colossal task of re-establishing the library service after the War was over.

When Mr Cole retired at the end of 1946, Mr 'Bill' Best Harris took over that post in January 1947.

Following a long and serious illness, he died in his sleep at the South Devon & East Cornwall Hospital, Plymouth, in 1954 at the age of 75 years.  He left a widow and a married daughter, Mrs Alan Horne, of Edinburgh.

He was at the time of his death one of the two senior vice-presidents of the City of Plymouth Operatic & Dramatic Society, after being chairman for many years.  He was chairman of the Orpheus Choir, secretary of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, a member of Mutley Conservative Club, a Rotarian, and a member of the choir at Emmanuel Church.

Sources recorded.


  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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