For a few days in September, it will be possible to go inside a 300-year-old former waterworks building to see how it looks before major restoration work gets underway.

(c) Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration

What was the House of Illustration in King’s Cross is moving to the 300-year old New River Head building in Islington, and is being renamed the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration. When it opens, the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration will be home to exhibition galleries, education studios, events spaces and a shop and cafe. It will also become a permanent home for the archive of the venue’s founder, Sir Quentin Blake.

The official opening of the building will be in 2024, but for a limited time in September you can visit the site before its transformation and find out more about their plans for the building and the exhibition space.

The site — New River Head — has a fascinating history as the hub of one of London’s first major pieces of urban infrastructure, but its unique 18th and 19th century buildings have been locked up for 70 years.

On your visit, you can see this unique space and find out more about its history at installations by their illustrators in residence.

The free tours run on Thur-Sun for two weeks between 8th and 18th September, and can be booked from here.

Access requirements

The buildings are on Amwell Street, about a 10-minute walk from Angel tube station.

New River Head is a derelict site with facilities limited to two portable toilets. All open spaces are on ground floor level without steps, however, there is uneven ground throughout the site. Trip hazards will be clearly signposted and/or cordoned off.

Due to the condition of the site, this event is suitable for people aged 16 and over. Young people over the age of eight may be admitted if supervised by a responsible adult.

(c) Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration


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  1. Mark Newbrook says:

    I’m unable to access any means of booking here. Can anyone help? Many thanks!

  2. J Smith says:

    link is wrong…?

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