Historic artefact home-finding mission

Solutions sought for storing and displaying rising number of historic artefacts in London, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Museum of London
credit Museum of London

Sadiq Khan has said there are “no plans” to display some of London’s rising number of historic artefacts in tube stations, following a suggestion from a City Hall politician.

A director at Historic England warned earlier this year that the “clock is ticking” to find enough museum space to accommodate archaeological finds, which are being increasingly uncovered by building works across the UK.

Troves of ancient artefacts are thought to be gathering dust in warehouses as a result, ranging from fine Roman metalwork to Bronze Age pottery.

Barney Sloane, national specialist services director at Historic England, recently told the BBC: “The clock is ticking – we have four or five years before we really do start seeing massive problems.”

The idea of displaying some of the objects in London’s tube stations and transport hubs was suggested by Leonie Cooper, a Labour member of the London Assembly. In a written question to the mayor, she said doing so would “enhance Londoners’ ability to view the city’s history”.

Responding, Khan said: “Tube stations share and display the history of the station and stories about key people in transport, the history of transport and how that has shaped London more widely.

“These can be found throughout the network on blue signage and is managed by Transport for London [TfL] with support from the London Transport Museum.

“There are no plans to display artefacts found in construction sites in London in tube stations. Anything of archaeological merit should be shared with the Museum of London to review for accession into its collection.”

He explained that this was not only “because of the environmental conditions required for museum objects” but also due to the licensing rules which govern the storage of objects on the underground network.

The mayor said these obstacles would mean “any plans to display museum objects would take considerate [sic] planning and investment”.

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