Way back in May 2012, commenting on the blog’s very first post, a reader asked “how about a picture of what the strongrooms look like today?” Perhaps rashly, we promised a peek.
One year on, at last we have some snaps for you – a glimpse into the subterranean vaults where the Society of Friends’ archives, manuscripts, rare books and museum objects are stored. They’re not pretty, but they are cool and solid with a stable temperature and humidity. Formerly four separate rooms, they have now been reorganised into three areas, joined by a long corridor, retaining only two of the original barred metal internal doors. The massive original main door is no longer in use, but is too heavy to remove: it remains as a splendid visual reminder of the value the Society of Friends sets on its historic collections. In recent years modern fire-proof security doors have been installed and the lift shaft from the earlier book hoist incorporated into the strongroom area.
We can’t bring you the real-life atmosphere of the strongrooms – cool, silent (though the rumble of a tube train is occasionally detected), with that unmistakable smell of paper and leather. And they are tricky to photograph since there’s not much space for the long shot. Here though is our offering – a gallery of images from underground.
Note: the gallery is best viewed on the website, so if you’re reading this post in an email, or on a phone, click on the title link at the top of the email to go to the full web version. To view an image at full size in a gallery, click on it; to close the gallery down again and go back to the blogpost, click the x in the top left hand corner.