Like many pioneering systems, Waterhouse’s original design wasn’t entirely successful and it has undergone several modifications.
In 1940, during World War II, a gallery in the Museum was hit by two incendiaries and an oil bomb. Waterhouse’s natural air-flow system actually helped feed the fire. The rest of the building remained unaffected, thanks to number of his other building features such as strong mahogany doors and fireproof walls.
Fortunately, the majority of botanical specimens were saved by staff on fire watch that night. The roof of the bombed gallery was repaired and the area now houses the Cryptogamic Herbarium and botany laboratories.