Building work to refurbish Red Stairs toilets to begin Monday 18 October

The success of the 2019/20 Library Fund appeal has enabled the much-needed refurbishment of the mens’ and ladies’ toilets on the Red Stairs to become reality and we are pleased to announce that work is about to start on this important project. Once complete it will significantly improve the facilities for members.

Work is scheduled to start on 18 October and there will be periods when the works will cause significant disruption around the Red Stairs and higher noise levels will be unavoidable, especially during the first weeks of the project.

The Red Stairs toilets will be out of use from Monday 18 October and will remain closed for approximately two months until the refurbishment is complete. Alternative toilets in TS Eliot House and in the basement adjacent to the Lightwell will remain open throughout and will be clearly signposted.

On Tuesday 19 an area of the Lightwell roof will be opened up and the Lightwell Reading Room will be closed for Members from then until Saturday 23. If scaffolding is required then the Lightwell may need to be closed to Members for the whole week. We will let Members know as soon as possible if this will be the case. 

Inevitably, some of the refurbishment will be noisy - especially during the week commencing 25 October where drilling and stripping out of worn out fittings is required. To mitigate this we will be looking to carry out as much of the most disruptive work before 10am where we can, but around the Red Stairs there may be periods of higher levels of daytime noise than usual. We have agreed an initial quiet window from 12pm to 2pm for the duration of the project. During the works, protective coverings will be in place in parts of the Red Stairs and at times it may be necessary to restrict access to the Reading Room to the entrance next to the Writers Room.

Although disrupted supply chains may affect delivery schedules we expect refurbishment and decoration to be completed by Christmas and we will be updating members over coming weeks on the project’s progress and the stages of work involved.

In the meantime we’d like to thank our members for their generosity in supporting the Appeal that has enabled this project to take place and that will transform an important part of the building. The work will involve short term disruption over the next couple of months but we are confident that the end result will be well worth it! This year’s appeal, to transform the lighting in the bookstacks, is now underway – find out more and donate at