Clean air and heating

The ventilation system designed by Waterhouse was driven by three coal-fired boilers and a huge marine fan, which together spread warmed air around the Museum through a maze of shafts and tunnels, built into the fabric of the building. As it escaped through the tops of the Museum towers, fresh air was sucked in to replace it through vents in the floor (pictured above), and the Hintze Hall (formerly the Central Hall) staircase.

We still use Waterhouse’s system for heating the galleries, doing away with the need for radiators. The system, which was similar to one being trialled in the Houses of Parliament, is innovative even now and engineers are developing similar systems for new environmentally-friendly buildings.