Flood at Tate Britain

Extensive damage to basement in Easter Sunday flood

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Serious flooding of the construction site at Tate Britain has badly damaged the basement of the Centenary Development area, in the north-west corner of the Millbank complex. Fortunately, no damage was caused to the existing galleries or works of art. The incident, which has gone unreported, occurred on Easter Sunday, when a water mains joint failed, flooding the newly-constructed basement and plant room. Construction managers, Mace, assisted by Tate and contracted staff, took immediate action. A Tate spokesman confirmed that damage to both fabric and equipment was “extensive”, although at this stage he was unable to estimate the financial costs. Our sources suggest that the damage could amount to several million pounds. This is expected to be met from the Tate’s building project insurance, not from gallery funds. Construction is continuing on the upper levels of the Centenary Development, although there has been some disruption on the ground floor and extensive remedial work is taking place in the basement. Until the flood, the Centenary Development was slightly ahead of schedule. It was due to open next spring, and this remains the target, but it may now be early summer. The £32 million project, which will include an entrance in Atterbury Street, public facilities, extra gallery space and a large area for temporary exhibitions, is being supported with £18.75 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a major donation from Sir Edwin Manton. In 1928 the Tate suffered a major disaster when the Thames burst its banks, damaging over a hundred oil paintings, and the danger of river flooding remained a threat until the completion of the Thames Barrier in 1982.

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