More floods in the Large Mansion museum stores

The structure of the Large Mansion is proving unable to cope with the heavy rainstorms that West London experienced in July.

One major downpour caused water to flow down the walls of the Victorian Kitchens and the Housekeeper’s Still Room and, worst of all, through the ceiling of the Brushing Room, the museum store where the Museum keeps the Victorian bicycles, (including two rare penny farthing bicycles); neon signs from the Great West Road factories; early perambulators and most of the collection of washing machines (Victorian to 1950s).

The Brushing Room has a flat roof and the gutters were blocked by leaves from the park. These were cleared and the Museum thought it was safe, but near the end of July there was another storm and water poured through the ceiling and through the electric lights. As there are few staff left in the Museum and as there were only three people in the building at the time, the Museum was closed, and everyone set to with mops and buckets. Half the collections in the Brushing Room had to be dragged into the Victorian Kitchens, the nearest dry place available. At the moment there is nowhere else for them to go, so the Victorian Kitchens will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

This is the third major flood in the museum stores in the last year, not counting the regular leaks they have in the archaeology stores in the cellars; the staff kitchens (once a Rothshild’s dressing room) and the cleaners’ room (once the room used by the Rothschild’s housekeeper).

Much of the collections are now covered in plastic sheeting, but some have been moved around to (supposedly) new dry stores and have got wet three times in the last year. The deterioration of the Large Mansion is having a disastrous effect on many of Ealing’s and Hounslow’s local history collections.

Lead stolen from Princess Amelia’s Bathhouse

We have just heard that the lead has been stolen again from the ridges of the Bathhouse. This is the third time in the last two years and it has been stolen despite being thickly covered in anti-climb paint.

The buildings have already suffered from lead being stolen off the Large Mansion twice and the Small Mansion three times.

The Stakeholders’ Meeting, 30th July

Some of the public who attended the Stakeholders’ Meeting on 30th July to discuss the Consultation document seemed to think that the size of the restoration project was excessive and that it was perfectly possible simply to restore one building at a time over the next twenty years. This would therefore not require the drastic step of raising funds by selling land. The reality is that both Mansions are in a terrible state. The piecemeal process has been going on for the last twenty years, and we are now living with the consequences.

James Wisdom
4th August 2009