London’s British Museum Refurbishment is a Job for Bilco

As part of the recently completed £4.7m gallery refurbishment at London’s British Museum, Bilco UK Ltd has supplied specially designed roof hatches which complement this historic building.

Coniston Construction was the main contractor for the complete refurbishment and fit-out of galleries 36-40 at the museum, where a total of 25 Bilco roof hatches have been installed to the flat roof area. Ten of the hatches are of steel construction; the remaining 15 are special units produced in copper, to match the originals which they replaced. As well as being fitted with additional security locking, the hatches have automatic hold-open arms which ensure they cannot be blown closed.

The hatches allow access to air conditioning and other services vital to the galleries below. This method of accessing the services has had to be adopted because the historic nature of the ceiling within the gallery precludes maintenance work being carried out from inside the building.

Conservation has been very much a byword on the project. The newly restored part of the museum galleries 36-40 suffered bomb damage during the Second World War and was rebuilt shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, given the financial constraints of the post-war era, the original reconstruction relied on inferior materials which have not stood the test of time.

It had been a long standing ambition on the part of the Trustees of the British Museum to restore the galleries to their original condition, stripping back the initial restoration and reinstating the original design in all its glory. With the help of architects Building Design Partnership and contractor Coniston, this has finally been achieved.

Commenting on the successful completion of the British Museum refurbishment, Bilco general manager James Fisher said: “This high profile project offers a textbook example of Bilco’s ability to meet the most demanding requirements with appropriate solutions. These hatches are manufactured for a long and trouble-free life, even if little used. They are designed to stay weather-tight yet be easy to open for many years to come.”

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