The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 12 Knightsbridge and Kensington

Imperial Institute of the United Kingdom

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The north side of Imperial Institute Road is mainly occupied by the IMPERIAL INSTITUTE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, THE COLONIES, AND INDIA, a large building in a free Italian Renaissance style by Thomas E. Collcutt, erected in 1887-93 as the national memorial of Queen Victoria's Jubilee. The building, 600 feet in length, has a central tower (280 feet high, with a fine peal of bells) and lower towers at the angles. A portion of it now contains the administrative offices of London University (see below). The Imperial Institute has for its principal object the promotion of the development and utilization of the natural resources of the Empire. In terms of an Act of Parliament of 1925 it is now under the general control of the Government Department of Overseas Trade, and an executive Council on which the Dominions, Colonies, and India are represented. The director is Lieutenant-General Sir William Furse. The Institiite undertakes investigations as to the utilization of raw materials for industrial and commercial purposes and disseminates information as to the economic resources of the various countries of the Empire. It includes a Scientific and Technical Research Department, with laboratories, etc., a Technical Information Bureau, and a Reference Library, Map Room, and Reading Room (on the first floor), to which accredited visitors are admitted. It publishes a quarterly Bulletin (3/6) and monographs on commercial subjects; and it is the headquarters of various associations connected with the Colonies. The Exhibition Galleries, in which the animal, vegetable, and mineral resources of the Empire are illustrated (open free daily 10-5, November-January 10-4), are entered from the east or the west end of the facade in Imperial Institute Road. The collections, arranged according to countries, include beautiful examples of handicrafts, maps, geographical models of natural features, colonial harbours, and native industries, statistical tables, pictures, and other objects, including numerous royal presents (lent by the King). The Upper East Gallery contains a reference collection of standard commercial products.