The South London Botanical Institute (SLBI) has just received £99,600 towards its project the restoration of their historic herbarium. The Institute, based in Tulse Hill, has been awarded the grant for an exciting project, ‘Plant recording for all ages’, which will bring the herbarium up-to-date, make it accessible to all and enable visitors to use it for a range of activities. The project will start in May 2016 and will take place over the next two years.

The herbarium at the Institute contains around 100,000 pressed plant specimens, some of them about 200 years old. They are all housed in the original cabinets designed by the Institute’s founder over 100 years ago. The new project will help to conserve these fragile specimens and install digital interpretation facilities so that visitors can view them online. The Institute will also widen its range of already popular educational activities for school children, adults and young people to complement the refurbishments.

The SLBI was founded in 1910 by Allan Octavian Hume, a dedicated social reformer, with the aim of bringing botany to the working people of south London. This aim continues today, with people from local communities and further afield able to explore the plant world, enjoy the botanic garden and library and participate in a wide range of activities for all ages and levels of ability.

Commenting on the award, Marlowe Russell, SLBI Trustee, said: “We are delighted to have received further support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have already made huge developments at the Institute using their last grant and are looking forward to updating our herbarium so that visitors have even more to enjoy and learn about when they come here.”

Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “Rare flowers, strange fungus, not to mention thistles and moss… the historic plant collections of the South London Botanical Institute are home to fascinating examples of our botanic heritage. Many of these are beautiful, extraordinary and intriguing but also very fragile. Thanks to Lottery players, our grant will use digital technology to help many more people access and enjoy these remarkable plant specimens.”

About the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)

The SLBI was founded in 1910 by Allan Octavian Hume, with the aim of bringing botany to the working people of south London. Hume was a servant of the British Raj, a founding member of the Indian National Congress in 1885 and a dedicated social reformer. He bought the1860s Victorian house and converted it for his purposes early in the twentieth century, installing the library and herbarium and laying out the garden. The herbarium cabinets were designed by Hume, are still in use and contain plant specimens dating back as far as 1802. The garden has evolved and now has a thriving pond, particularly popular with our visiting school children.

The SLBI is open to the public on Thursdays 10am-4pm, for frequent and varied events and activities and by appointment (subject to volunteer availability).

It runs a wide-ranging botanical and environmental programme of educational and social activities for many ages and levels of knowledge. SLBI collections are used for research and are online at Herbaria@Home. SLBI and its collections help understanding about botanical collecting and how botanical discoveries fuelled developments in medicine and agriculture as well as generating income. Elements of the collections are presently contributing to external academic research programmes.

SLBI 323 Norwood Road SE24 9AQ, near Tulse Hill Station Open Thursdays 10-4