IHBC Signpost to Health and Safety, from an old Building: Dodging falling bricks at the Natural History Museum construction, 1876

An account of what visitors found when being shown round the half-completed building by its architect Alfred Waterhouse in 1876 has been featured anew by Building.

image: for illustration – By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=559965

Building writes:

Site safety is one aspect of construction the Victorians did not excel at, but usually it would be the builders who are at risk. On a visit to the site of the Natural History Museum in 1876, it was members of the Architectural Association who found themselves narrowly avoiding a fatal accident. Workers on the scaffold above accidentally dropped two or three bricks, which landed within 2ft of the tour group and smashed one of the half-completed building’s terracotta tiles…

… Designed by Manchester Town Hall architect Alfred Waterhouse, it was among the first buildings to be covered almost entirely in terracotta tiles, which could resist London’s sooty atmosphere…

The report also highlights the dangers of gas lighting at the time. Bottles containing fish preserved in spirit were deemed at risk of exploding if ignited by a stray flame, meaning that much of the building would remain unlit.

Read more…. (Restricted access)

For more background see UK Daily News

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