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Historic Library Restored to Former Glory

WM College is excited to announce the completion of the historic library refurbishment, made possible due to generous funding from The Greater London Authority (GLA) and the estate of WM College alumni, Kathryn Brownlee.

This year marks 170 years since the College opened, and what better way to start the celebrations than with the restoration of this important space.

The Library is the historic heart of WM College and has some incredible resources which tell the story of the College from its inception in 1854. Many notable WM College alumni and tutors such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ruskin, E M Forster, George Orwell and Octavia Hill spent time studying within the Library and would have used the space for collaborative thinking with their peers. Therefore, it was essential that this restoration tastefully preserved the history whilst also developing an improved space that would enhance current learner’s experience.

Atomik Architects were selected for the task and proposed tasteful and subtle developments that enhanced study spaces for working in small groups, improved desk areas for independent study and created a new area for specialist talks and events. The fully restored space now boasts the following:

  • Restored original bookcases and parquet flooring, showcasing their original splendour
  • Study desks restored and fitted with brass lighting to illuminate work areas while providing ambient lighting
  • New power and data sockets
  • Alcoves for 1-1 tutorials, private work and small meetings
  • Reduced shelving to make the whole library more open and accessible
  • A warm colour scheme bringing through hues of green to complement the natural wood
  • New comfortable meeting area including soft furnishings – sofas, rugs and ambient lighting
  • A new purpose-built reception desk
  • A small suite of PCs and a printing area
  • A comfortable, furnished reading area

The finished result is a beautiful, calming environment which we hope will enable our current and future learners to feel inspired and thrive within their education. Library opening times and resource information can be found here.

Discovering History

During the refurbishment the architects discovered some fascinating historical items in the rafters – a pair of boots, a hat and a prayer left by the original builders in the 1800’s. Historically, objects like these have been left as ‘Builder’s Rites’ and used to ward away evil spirits, often found in fireplaces and chimneys which were thought of as easy places for evil spirits to enter a building. As a mark of respect, the objects were left in place and remain there to be discovered in another 100 years.


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Tel: 020 7255 4700
7 Leighton Place
Tel: 020 7241 8572