King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
In the Beginning ...

Completing the building

Progress and completion

The Times reported in February 1830 that 'the preparations for the new edifice of King's college are now considerably advanced'.

An average of 300 workmen were engaged at any one time in laying the foundations including between 25 and 100 masons, 47 bricklayers and a dozen carpenters. Heavy work usually stopped in mid-winter and the half-finished brickwork protected by awnings and covers.

Rapid progress was made and the carcass of the building was completed towards the end of 1830, when fitting out could begin. Joinery, furniture, oil lamps, boilers, coal stores, office equipment, stationery, and laboratory and engineering machinery such as lathes, were purchased.

The College authorities were frequently dissatisfied by the standard of workmanship, which was often entrusted to tradesmen on account of their proximity to the Strand or because of their financial stake in the College owing to proprietorship.

The school playground was declared unsafe and the glaziers in particular singled out for criticism. The budget for library books, equipment and the refectory were initially insufficient and economy encouraged.

The College received generous gifts of books, however, for example the library of William Marsden in 1835, and also received numerous unsolicited approaches from suppliers of maps, globes, books, human anatomical specimens, and even a collection of extinct mastodon casts from Norfolk and a giraffe skeleton for £150.

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