Architect: Foster & Ponton
From The Builder March 5 1870: The building for those amalgamated institutions at the top of Park street close to several other important edifices is progressing towards completion and in our present number publish a view of it and the plan of ground floor. In our volume for 1869 we gave some particulars of the construction. Messrs Foster & Ponton are the architects and Messrs Warburton the builders, the amount of the contract is 10,000. Farley Down red stone is used for the exterior. The style is French Gothic. A flight of steps 32 ft wide leads to an open portico having columns with carved capitals and bases from which spring seven pointed arches. The portico is laid with Coalbrook dale tiles and is built throughout of freestone. The front wall is divided into the same number of bays each one corresponding in dimensions with the arch which faces it. The three middle ones are devoted to doorways and the remaining four to windows which light the entrance hall and offices. These windows each consist of three lancet headed lights surmounted with a traceried light the whole inclosed in a pointed arch resting on carved shafts with foliated capitals. Passing through the entrance doors which slide on iron rails we get into the entrance hall. There is a committee room to the left and directly in front of the entrance is the door to the ground floor museum. This is a large apartment 2 ft of the in height. Running down the middle of the room is a series of octagonal freestone shafts from which spring arches for the support of the floor above. The room is lighted by five windows on the Bakerville road side of geometrical tracery exactly the same as those described in the front and four on the opposite side which looks into a small yard. From the entrance hall access is also gained to a spacious library and a reading room librarian’s room, curator’s room and all necessary offices. The reading room and library are lighted by means of a lantern roof. The height from the ground floor to the eaves of the lantern is 36 ft. A gallery rung round both rooms communicating with a ladies reading room and on the same level as a mezzanine floor. A flight of steps from the entrance hall takes us to the first floor which is devoted to a larger museum covering an area of 4 8G4 square feet and 2 1 ft high.