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IHR Model Hut

The IHR’s original premises was a hut on Malet Street. Much-loved former IHR receptionist, Glen Jacques, made a model of the building in 2020–2021


Many visitors to Senate House have fond memories of Glen Jacques, who worked at IHR reception from 2005 until 2021.

Glen had trained in model-making and made and collected models throughout his life. He was also fascinated by the history of the Institute and enjoyed looking at old photos and plans and talking to people about their memories. The combination of these interests inspired Glen to make a model of the IHR’s original premises, which stood on Malet Street before Senate House was built.

The model was generously given to the Institute by Glen’s family, and is on display.

The original IHR building

The IHR was opened in a temporary building in Malet Street in July 1921. Constructed quickly and cheaply as one storey with a timber frame and asbestos wall panels on a concrete base, it remained in use almost until the Second World War. In the 1920s it was christened ‘The Tudor Cottages’ by University College history students, with the historical specialism of the IHR’s founder Prof. A. F. Pollard in mind, as well as its black-and-white style. A more widely used name was ‘the Huts’, because the construction method was especially familiar from Army huts during the Great War.

In the early 1930s the whole east side of Malet Street was intended for an elongated version of Senate House, stretching all the way from Montague Place to Torrington Place. These plans changed and the Huts were removed in 1938 when Birkbeck College was built. The IHR moved into rooms on the third floor of Senate House South Block in 1938 and to its familiar present home in the North Block only in 1947, after an interlude in BMA House in Tavistock Square.

Map showing location of IHR hut on Malet Street

Map showing location of the IHR Huts

Map showing the location of the IHR Huts within the University Site. From A Plea for the Institute of Historical Research (1926, IHR archive ref. IHR/6/12/5)

Aerial view showing planned University site

Aerial view showing Huts

Aerial view with the University Site outlined (east at top). (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/10/1/10)

The original IHR building, timber-framed hut

The Huts

The Malet Street Huts from the south. Behind are the backs of houses facing Torrington Square. (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/10/1/2)

IHR Huts in the foreground, Senate House under construction behind, 1937

Huts with Senate House under construction

View from Malet Street of the IHR Huts in the foreground, with Senate House under construction behind, 1937 (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/10/1/12)

Glen’s model

Glen trained as a model maker and had a life-long interest in making and collecting models of different kinds. After he came to the IHR he loved finding out about its history from old plans and photographs and people’s memories. Putting the two interests together inspired the idea of making a scale model of the IHR Huts. He researched the ground plan, elevations, and interiors, and made this accurate and detailed model in 1:41 scale. Glen carefully reconstructed the complicated roof shape and the chimneys, and even printed small advertisements visible in photos of the building.

Glen also made a video in which he showed the location of the Huts and talked viewers through the process of making the model. It's lovely to hear in the video how Glen developed the project, and how proud he was to work for the Institute. You can now watch this video online.

Glen’s family generously gave the model to the IHR. It was prepared for display by two members of the IHR staff, Justin Colson and Adam Chapman. Glen had some ideas about reconstructing the interiors of the Huts and this remains a potential digital project.

Glen smiling at the IHR reception desk

Glen at reception

Architect showing Glen around the refurbished IHR. Both are wearing hard hats.

Glen being shown around the redeveloped IHR

Glen was always engaged with the IHR's history and took an active interest in its refurbishment. Here he is being shown around in 2014

Plan of the original IHR building

The final plan that Glen used as the starting point for his model

The plans evolved between the architect’s earliest drawings and the final plans. (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/11/1/2)

Glen's model in progress

The model in progress

This is the south end, with French windows under the gable on the right leading from the common room into the IHR paved garden.

Glen's model of the IHR huts

The finished model

Glen's model of the IHR Huts

Glen's video

Glen made a video in which he showed the location of the Huts and talked viewers through the process of making the model.

The Huts’ interior

Pollard gave much thought to planning the interior of the Huts so as to provide the Library rooms and office accommodation that was needed. The Library rooms housed named parts of the collections, and the larger ones were used for evening seminars, as in later times. Offices accommodated the IHR’s own small administrative staff and sometimes external research projects or organizations.

At the end of the first year the library had over 10,000 books and pamphlets. The number had grown to over 54,000 by the time the IHR moved into Senate House in 1938, and the balance of the collections changed over the years, so that the Library rooms changed their names fairly often.

Library in IHR huts, 1930s, woman getting book from shelf

The English History room in 1938

English History room looking towards the two small side-rooms housing the London and Palaeography collections. (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/10/1/9)

Corridor lined with bookcases

Central corridor

The central corridor was lined with bookcases on one side. Smaller rooms opened off both sides. (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/10/1/3)

Library in IHR huts, 1920s, table

English History room, 1926

(IHR Archive Ref. IHR/10/1/3)

Library room with desks and a door through to another room. 1920s

American room

American room, looking through to Colonial history room, 1926 (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/10/1/3)

Servicing the Institute

The Huts were a working building, with a resident uniformed caretaker, a cleaner, and boy attendants.

Hot water and inadequate central heating came from a coke-fired boiler in the basement, stoked by a ‘boy attendant’. The chimney was over the entrance. The Huts had smoking and non-smoking common rooms (identical in size), separated by a moveable screen. There was a room for administration and cataloguing. The Institute Bindery was in a separate building at the back.

Plan showing heating and hot water supply

Heating Apparatus

Plan for heating and hot water supply (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/11/1/3)

Diagram showing boiler in basement

Boiler diagram

Diagram showing boiler (detail) (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/11/1/6)

Plan showing smoking and non-smoking common room with moevable screen

Common rooms

Diagram showing smoking and non-smoking common room (detail) (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/11/1/6)

Bindery equipment

Institute Bindery

Institute Bindery in 1982 (IHR Archive Ref. IHR/10/1/16)


The model was generously given to the Institute by Glen’s family.

Much of the information here came from the IHR archive and Debra J. Birch and Joyce M. Horn, The History Laboratory: The Institute of Historical Research 1921–96, London 1996 (IHR library copy)

Illustrations are taken from the IHR archive.

There have been many contributions from members of the Institute of Historical Research and University of London communities, past and present.

Glen died in 2022 and is much missed. Glen's family invite any donations in Glen’s memory to Bowel Cancer UK, Kidney Research UK or St Joseph's Hospice, Hackney.