We write to tell our friends, supporters and stakeholders that Robert Hulse is standing down as the Museum Director this month and will be retiring. We are very grateful to Robert for his significant contribution over the years and would like to share with you the following in celebration of his time with us.
Robert’s association with the museum began 27 years ago. He saw the high chimney restored, the roof replaced and the building turn into a Registered Museum. Later, as the Museum’s first Director, he saw the underground chamber above the railway open to the public for the first time in 150 years, and one weekend in a blockbuster event, 15,000 people walked through the oldest tunnel in the oldest underground in the world.
The building, once an empty, roofless ruin, is now open every day, with a small but growing collection, and welcomes some 38,000 visitors a year. The underground chamber, the Grand Entrance Hall, hosts concerts, opera, chamber music, cinema and film shoots. The landscaped garden above the chamber is a herb garden, a valued community resource and cocktail bar! The Museum was given The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (and our thanks to those volunteers who helped to make this happen!).
The Museum has been fortunate enough to acquire a beautiful collection of Brunel watercolours, with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and others. And this year initial partial funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund means we can enter the development phase to build a new gallery and new visitor facilities to transform the Museum.
Robert is not leaving Rotherhithe, his family’s home for the last 27 years, but after a very happy and fulfilling time at the helm, he is retiring as Museum Director and says he will enjoy watching the Museum navigate new and exciting waters. Because Brunel built ships as well as tunnels.