Decision on Quentin Blake illustration centre draws closer

Artist’s impression of the Quentin Blake Centre For Illustration. Image: Tim Ronalds Architects

An 18th-century engine house could become the world’s largest space dedicated to illustration and the home for all things Sir Quentin Blake.

The House of Illustration hopes that its plans to transform the derelict building in Clerkenwell can get off the drawing board if Islington’s planning committee approves the scheme.

It plans to open the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration at New River Head off Amwell Street.

The building featured in a recent BBC film celebrating Sir Quentin’s 70-year career.

The gallery would house the 45,000 works in the archive of the much-loved artist and writer, who illustated many of Roald Dahl’s books, including The BFG, Matilda and Fantasic Mr Fox.

The work would include converting the Grade II-listed buildings known as the Engine House, Boiler House, Coal Store and Windmill Base into space for exhibitions, workshops, a cafe and a shop.

Four residents have objected to the plans. Concerns include noise and light pollution from the new foyer building, which is close to homes, and from an outdoor education area.

The designs were drawn up by Tim Ronalds Architects, which has also worked on Wilton’s Music Hall, Hackney Empire and The National Centre for Circus Arts.

The House of Illustration’s first home was at Granary Square at King’s Cross Goods Yard from 2014 until the pandemic struck in 2020.