In October 1994 ENO purchased nearly 200 architectural drawings of the London Coliseum from the firm of the original architect Frank Matcham (1854-1920). Within this collection are examples of all the major types of drawing and printing used by architects at this time, illustrating every stage of work on the initial building and a number of later revisions and alterations.
From the late 1950's the drawings were housed in a barn. When the barn was cleared and the value of the drawings was realised, ENO was approached. It was very timely as we had just acquired the freehold on the London Coliseum.
Stored in rolls in the barn, a number of the drawings were water damaged at one end of the roll, where the roll was butted against an outside wall. The water damage resulted in mould attack in most cases; there was also heavy surface dirt and the roll ends were crumpled and torn. Most of the drawings had creases and fractures and tears around the edges. The best preserved were the small drawings that were protected as they were in the centre of each roll.
In 2009 ENO was fortunate in securing a grant of £10,000 from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust towards the cost of conserving the most vulnerable drawings in the collection. Seventy four of the drawings were selected for special treatment, these have all been cleaned and mounted on Heritage All rag 190gm paper. All the drawings are now stored in polyester sleeves to protect them from further deterioration and have been digitised in the process.
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