Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration

Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration

Colourful illustration of water works building with celebration fireworks drawn by Quentin Blake
Quentin Blake's illustration of the Engine House building, the new home of the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration. Credit: Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage – £250,000 to £5million

Date awarded
Local Authority
Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration
Award Given
Historic waterworks are to become the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration thanks to over £3.75million in funding.

Quentin Blake has brought to life countless stories by acclaimed authors, including Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss. 

Providing a permanent home for his seven decades of work, this project is creating the first archive of a living artist and a centre for illustrators' work from across the UK.

The Quentin Blake Centre is repurposing the New River Head heritage site in Clerkenwell, which played an essential role in supplying Londoners with clean water from the early 1600s onwards. 

The atmospheric Grade II listed engine house, windmill base (the oldest remaining example in London) and cobbled courtyards are currently derelict, locked behind iron gates. Work to begin their sensitive restoration will begin later in 2024.

Two adults and two children do activities with flowers at a table in a courtyard
Collecting ideas for the community garden at an event at New River Head. Photo: Valentina Zunino.

The project will: 

  • display Quentin Blake’s extensive archive, which includes 40,000 items such as his earliest work from when he was at school 
  • create galleries and an exhibition space – showing advertisements, animation, manga, comic books and propaganda
  • create a community garden and public green space 
  • provide education and learning spaces 
  • establish volunteering, supported employment and local partnerships an apprenticeship and volunteering programme 
  • offer accessible facilities, including a Changing Places toilet 

Lindsey Glen, Director of Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, said: “We’re overjoyed to be bringing the national centre for illustration to Clerkenwell, restoring and opening up hidden heritage with help from the Heritage Fund. 

"It will be a welcoming, vibrant place where everyone’s stories and ideas matter, and every visitor leaves looking differently at the world around them.” 

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