Tag Archives: ihr

IHR refurbishment project gets underway

SH frontISG Construction Ltd has been awarded the contract for the rewiring and refurbishment of the IHR wing of the Senate House north block.  They are carrying out some preliminary inspections and surveys at the moment but during the week commencing Monday 24th June they will be setting up their site compound.  This will be in the corner of the Russell Square car park, between the tower and the IHR wing.  The movement of materials and waste to and from the site compound will be governed by a traffic management plan which has been designed to make the process as safe as possible.

The Russell Square car park will be closed to all but service and delivery vehicles from Monday 24th June, but the Malet Street car park will be reopened and may be used from that date.  There will be occasions when the Malet Street car park has to be closed, but advance notice will be given and space will be made available elsewhere for disabled drivers.  Cyclists and pedestrians will still be able to use the Russell Square car park and safe access routes will be marked out.

The refurbishment will last until July next year and although the noisiest of the work has been scheduled to take place out of the University’s working hours, there will inevitably be some disturbance from time to time.  We will keep this to a minimum but it will generally not be possible to stop the work in response to complaints about noise.  Your understanding and patience is requested.

The completion of this project will allow IHR to return to fully refurbished library, seminar and office space in the north block in time for the start of the autumn term next year.  The rest of the empty space in the north block has been leased to SOAS and they are working on their own refurbishment plans.  We will give updates on the progress of the IHR and SOAS refurbishments from time to time but in the meantime, please direct any questions to the Estates projects office on extension 8224.


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The new IHR (basement): The Exhibition Space

Did you see our exhibition on 90 years of the IHR at last year’s Anglo-American conference?  If not never fear as a ‘virtual’ version of that exhibition is still available on the IHR website.  It is well worth a look and makes for a fascinating read; however, that is not the central purpose of today’s post. What we would like to draw to your attention is the re-design of the IHR basement to incorporate a dedicated exhibition space. 



The ability to host a revolving exhibition is something that we are very excited about, with lots of plans in the works for what it might contain and naming opportunities for potential sponsors.



Although the 3D rendering above does not really do justice to the space we envisage it as a place members and visitors can wander around during their break from study in the library or, alternatively as a gathering area during conferences and other events held in our adjoining conference suite (see last week’s post). 

As you might have noticed the exhibition space in the corridor linking the main stairwell and lift to the conference suite is an innovative use of space and we think an improvement for a space formerly occupied by little more than ancient photocopiers and lacklustre tables and chairs.    

With thanks to BDP for images and plans

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The new IHR (basement): Conference and Lecture Theatres

The IHR has always prided itself on running events both large and small.  Our annual events programme includes conferences covering various historical topics and our premier event, the Anglo-American conference which continues to grow and improve every year.  However, with the old Wolfson and Pollard rooms being our largest space (able to hold 100 people) we were always forced to hold larger events elsewhere in Senate House which meant lots of walking to and fro or that the event was hosted outside of the IHR space itself.  An integrated conference space became one of the highest priorities for the re-development of the IHR.



So here is the proposed conference suite.  As you can see there are two rooms (one with a capacity for about 90 and the other for about  40).  However, just like the old Wolfson and Pollard rooms, these can be joined together to form one larger suite (see images below).  Of course, this poses difficulties of design to make sure that everyone can see the speaker and large screen projected image.  Much thought, therefore has been put into that issue to avoid any problems.  The suite will also be fitted with entirely new state-of-the-art AV (audio-visual) equipment including plasma screens, projectors, speakers and microphones.  We have several design drawings for the conference rooms which can be looked at below:


Next time we shall stay in the basement but move next door from the conference suite to another brand new addition to the IHR – a dedicated exhibition space.  

With thanks to BDP for images and plans

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We will be back…

Elaine Walters, IHR Administrator discusses her thoughts and feelings about the IHR temporary relocation and its eventual return to the North Block of Senate House


Although we had actually been planning the IHR move for months, I don’t think I actually ever thought it would happen. But here we are in the south block!

I had the feeling that initially there was a lot of feet dragging, a kind of disbelief of that we would actually move at all and then suddenly I was sending round equipment logs for staff to fill in, and crawling around floors attempting to identify which particular socket a PC was attached to!

 Moving the IHR was surprisingly emotional. Every book packed, every crate filled, every picture taken off the wall, and every locker opened seemed to tear a little bit more heart out of the place. And the planning required – every library book taken off its shelf and every crate labelled to correspond with a new home elsewhere, every door lock, every phone and PC socket identified, every piece of furniture to be labelled with a home, and decisions made about what to store and what not to store.

 There were areas in the IHR which had clearly not been accessed for thirty years or more. We found old photographs, typewriters, desks with drawers containing blotting paper and ink (oh the good old days!). The most time – consuming part of the exercise was having to open every single unclaimed locker- and there were over hundred! Some clearly had not been opened for a decade. They contained newspapers from the early 90’s, record cards, spare shoes and enough books to open a book shop. Some of the most surprising items included net curtains, underwear, bedding, oceans of talcum powder and lipstick and in one locker 14 brand new toothbrushes! And from the lockers located in the women’s toilet- several unopened and several half drunk bottles of sherry!

Over the two weeks of the move things were very hectic but the library and mezzanine move, which were phases 1 and 2 went surprisingly smoothly. Hats off to the staff and to Pickford’s, who were flexible, professional, and good hearted throughout.

We experienced the inevitable problems- the photocopier was too big to get into the lift to move and had to be dismantled, some staff had over – estimated the amount of furniture which could be fitted into their new offices. One department (who shall remain nameless) had not completed their packing on the day of the move, some cupboards were so heavy that even with four Pickfords men we struggled to move them and so had to be unpacked, moved and re-packed.

Phase 3 – the move to Senate House 3rd floor, proved to be the most problematic.  In terms of the amount to be moved it was much less than phases 1 and 2 but the furniture proved too large to get into the rooms due to the ‘extra’ architraving around the door frames.   Desks had to be disassembled and re-assembled which doubled the amount of time the move should have taken.  But we made it and in no time at all people were back at their desks, vases filled with flowers and shelves filled up with belongings.

The ‘old IHR’ now stands virtually empty- no books, no furniture and no people. The space actually echoes!  I have taken many trips back in the days since the move-for me personally it is rather sad to see our corridors bereft of life. And goodness me the state of some of the space- the years of ‘north block neglect’ have taken their toll. It is not until a space is laid bare that the true extent of this is made clear.   People keep stopping me and asking why we would ever want to move back after experiencing the south block. Well, even though the offices are superior, the sense of IHR community appears broken – hopefully only for a short time until everyone gets used to the new space but the loss of the common room at the heart of the Institute is severely felt.

But enough of this melancholy; the move provides an important opportunity for the IHR to shift itself into the 21st  century. Planning for our new space is afoot and we are excited about the prospects ahead. Preliminary plans reveal that our space can be used more flexibly and to greater effect. The IHR remains committed to providing a space that is fit for purpose- that purpose being the facilitation of historical research for the generation s of historians to come, as well as those who are still with us.

Thank you to all the staff who engaged so fully with the moves, to the library staff who worked tirelessly to get the library open to the public on time, to estates staff who came good, despite my pleading, nagging and begging for things to be done, and to the members of the IHR for coming back to us. Stay with us- it’s going to be a bumpy, but worthwhile ride.

E Walters

October 2011

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A new (but familiar) home for IHR Digital/Publications

The IHR Publications team (now including IHR Digital) has never been located in one place. At our most dispersed we were divided over four floors, from the old IHR basement to the third floor. For all but the most health conscious this involved considerable use of the lift! More importantly, it meant that it wasn’t easy just to drop in on colleagues to ask them a quick question, or even for a chat.

With the relocation, however, the whole team is finally co-located in the lower mezzanine, between the north and south blocks of Senate House. The space is different to that elsewhere in the building, as it was originally intended for book storage rather than office use. Consequently the ceilings are quite low (in striking contrast to the rooms in the north block) and some of the larger offices have weight-bearing pillars rather awkwardly in the middle of the room. But we do have lovely views of Russell Square on the one side, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University sunken garden on the other.

For some members of the team it has also meant coming home. Until as recently as two years ago what was then called the e-publications office was based in the lower mezzanine. Over the past 24 months it has been refurbished and rewired, and four people have returned to exactly the same office as before – but with a new coat of paint, better carpet and, vitally for our digital projects, robust wiring.

Most people, even those who work in Senate House, don’t know that the mezzanine exists, and it’s involved quite a bit of explanation every time we have visitors. But new signage will be going up soon, and you can find us just to the right of the new IHR reception desk on the third floor of south block.

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Research seminar 2011-12 programme and venue (update)

The 2011-2012 IHR research seminars are just around the corner.  Last month I updated this site with a list of seminar groups who had already posted their new programme online and new locations due to the relocation of the IHR.  It looks to be a fantastic and diverse programme yet again.  So here is a quick update for the other seminar groups that have now released information about their 2011-2012 series:

Archives and Society

Mainly ST274, Stewart House


British Maritime History

Location to be announced


Comparative Histories of Asia

Holden Room 103, Senate House and STB8 Stewart House 


Conversations and Disputations: Discussions among Historians

Senate Room, Senate House


Economic and Social History of the Pre-Modern World, 1500-1800

Mainly Athlone Room 102, Senate House


Film History

various in Stewart House


Histories of Home




Gordon Room, Senate House


Metropolitan History

Gordon Room G34, Senate House


Modern French History

various in Senate House, South Block


Modern German History

Mainly Gordon Room G34, Senate House, South Block


Modern Religious History



Parliaments, Politics and People

Room ST274, Stewart House


Postgraduate and Early Career

Torrington Rm. 104 and Holden Rm. 103, Senate House, South Block


Rethinking Modern Europe



Socialist History

Bloomsbury Rm. G35, Senate House, South Block


Society, Culture and Belief, 1500-1800

Athlone Rm. 102, Senate House, South Block


Women’s History


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IHR relocation update

Goodbye ‘old’ IHR

The IHR is now relocated into its temporary space on 2nd and 3rd floors of the South Block of Senate House.  The library can be found on floor 3 sharing a site with the Institute of Classical Studies Library.  The Director, development office  and administrative staff can also be found here.  The Publications, IHR Digital and two research centres CMH and VCH are located across the upper and lower mezzanine areas which are accessible from the 3rd floor of Senate House.

We are currently setting up a new postgraduate area in the mezzanine.

The 'new' IHR library

IHR library

 For members with lockers these can be found in the basement of Senate House.  Take the stairs or elevator to Senate House basement and turn right.  The lockers are located along the corridors.

We are still waiting for our signage to be delivered.  For the time being we have temporary signs posted.

We are very happy to receive comments on our new surroundings.  Please let us know how we might improve them further. 

Email:  ihr.reception@sas.ac.uk

Directions to the IHR: Enter the South Block of Senate House and take either the stairs or lifts to the third floor (to your left opposite the Senate House main reception).  When you reach the third floor the IHR reception is directly in front of you as you exit the lifts.   

The library is directly behind the reception desk.  Please ask our receptionist for further directions if required.

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