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Open House Festival

Self-guided tours of New River Head, the future site of Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration

Part of Open House Festival 2023

16 September 2023
11:00 – 16:00 (last entry 15:30)

Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration,
To the right of 28 Amwell Street, EC1R 1XU

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Visit the derelict industrial site that will become the national centre for illustration

We are restoring a 400-year-old former waterworks to create the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration.

The official opening will be in 2025, but for one-day only this September you can visit the site before its transformation and find out more about our plans.

The site – New River Head – has a fascinating history as the hub of one of London’s first major pieces of urban infrastructure, but its unique 18th and 19th century buildings have been locked up for 70 years.

On your visit, you can:

  • take a self-led tour of the grounds
  • learn about the site’s heritage
  • view the exteriors of our grade-II listed buildings up close
  • look inside the site’s unique windmill base
  • Tim Ronalds Architects will be on site between 12:00 – 14:00 ready for any questions about the future plans for the site
  • meet members of the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration team
  • activity handout for all the family to enjoy designed by illustrator Toya Walker.

Part of Open House Festival

Please note:

This site has uneven and slippery surfaces. We recommend wearing sturdy closed toed shoes with a good grip and dressing appropriately for the weather.

Due to the condition of the site, all young people under the age of fourteen must be supervised by a responsible adult at all times.

It will not be possible to go inside the Engine House, Engine Room or Coal Stores.

If you are feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms such as a high temperature, continuous cough, and/or loss of taste or smell, we ask that you do not visit.

Book free tickets

Photograph of a round brick building with a block of flats on the left and a large brick building on the right, with a blue sky in the background.

About Open House Festival

Open House Festival is a two-week celebration of London’s homes, architecture and neighbourhoods. You can get inside some of London’s best known buildings, as well as some of its best kept secrets.

Open House Festival website

Photograph of a row of one story brick buildings on the left and a large derelict brick building on the right with a blue sky in the background.
Photograph of a cobbled path with a tree at one end and two brick buildings either side. The sky is blue.
Photograph of a large derelict brick building with a blue sky behind it.

Images: New River Head © Justin Piperger