The Institute of Historical Research has not always occupied its current home. When it opened in 1921 it was based in temporary wooden buildings along Malet Street. Although lacking the grandeur of Senate House, these ‘Tudor style’ huts were purpose built, and the layout of the library would be familiar to anyone visiting the IHR today.
The buildings, as reported by The Observer in June 1938, had been erected using the latest techniques: ‘the temporary quarters, the gift of a generous anonymous donor, were constructed at the peak of the high building costs, on the principle of an army hut, on a concrete base with a timber frame and filled in with sheets of asbestos’. The same paper noted that their ‘ephemeral appearance gave a refreshing camp-like air to the grimmer permanences of Bloomsbury learning’. The whole cost £20,000 to design and build, the result of a generous donation from an anonymous benefactor.
It would not be long before even this temporary accommodation came under threat, as the University of London faced the loss of the entire Bloomsbury site in 1926. More to follow!