The Royal Borough of Greenwich recently commissioned Neil Tomlinson Architects to help transition, store and protect the fascinating and highly-varied archive of historic objects and documents managed by Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, as it moved from its original home in Woolwich, by the Thames, to a new store in Charlton. The project has now completed and the archive has been successfully moved over.
Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust is a registered charity, formed in 2014 to look after key structures, objects and historic records within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, including Charlton House and Assembly Rooms; the Museum Collections and Archive of Royal Greenwich; Tudor Barn in Eltham and several memorials across the borough. The museum collections and archive were originally housed in a Grade-II-listed building in Artillery Square, Woolwich Arsenal, directly alongside the Thames. This building now forms part of Royal Greenwich's new Creative District development, a performing arts and cultural center, set to benefit from the new on-site Woolwich Crossrail Station.
For the new home for the collections and archive, Neil Tomlinson Architects worked with Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust to convert and refurbish an existing, 477 sq m, double-storey space, ensuring the building was completely fit for purpose, including the creation of a purpose-built, climate-controlled area for more sensitive pieces, as well as ensuring easy access and navigation for staff and volunteers. The practice also fitted out a neighboring facility of identical dimensions to prepare it for a future tenant, who will be carefully chosen to ensure they do not impede on and can also act as a buffer to the space, to preserve the curatorial integrity of the artifacts. A new-build internal two-story block is shared between the two units along the party wall, with the ground floor used by Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust and the top floor (at mezzanine level) for use by the next-door tenant. The Trust's internal area includes administrative offices and new kitchen/bathrooms.
"I was lucky enough to live in Greenwich for many years," Neil Tomlinson, Founder of Neil Tomlinson Architects commented, "so it was a particular privilege for my practice to be involved in this project and with a London borough that has played such a significant role in the history of the capital. We are delighted to have been able to make a contribution towards preserving these artefacts for both history scholars and future generations of residents."
The Royal Borough of Greenwich archive, managed by Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, contains a great mix of items, from historical documents and plans to items pertaining to local history, including vehicles, machinery and natural history specimens and artworks. The Trust's staff are still working to catalog and process the totality of the collection, with a view to a longer-term move to a dedicated home, where parts of the archive can be displayed directly in the public eye.
Photography: Agnese Sanvito