The Herbarium expanded, new glasshouses built
Greater public access to the Gardens was accompanied by significant
expansion of the scientific collections. As the Herbarium gained
in size and importance, fears began to expressed about its fireproofing.
Hanover House had been partially demolished as its proximity to
the Herbarium was to present a fire risk, but in 1903 this issue
was resolved by a series of actions. The collections were transferred
to a wing; the original 1877 wing was gutted, fireproof floors were
installed and the galleries widened by 18ins (46cm).
The ongoing question of the relationship between the herbaria at
Kew and the British Museum was finally resolved in 1901. After 14
sittings, 18 witnesses and the examination of many documents, the
Committee recommended that the two herbaria should be united at
the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Furthermore, Kew's Director should
become the official advisor to the Government on all matters regarding
botany. Central to the debate was Thiselton-Dyer's argument that
Kew was a place of research as compared with the British Museum,
which was simply a repository; and that the Gardens played central
role in the economies of the empire.
Under Thiselton-Dyer, the expanding living collections also had
the problems of restricted space alleviated with the construction
of the first Alpine House in 1887 and its further enlargement in
1891. The Temperate House was also finally completed in 1899.
The Succulent House, erected in 1855, was replaced in 1905 with
a building of lighter construction, as was the Temperate Fern House.
Thiselton-Dyer also removed the last of the green glass from the
glasshouses, replacing it with the clear glass we know today.
Back to: 1885-1945: