Work on an illustration centre celebrating the work of Quentin Blake at a former waterworks is set to begin soon after more money for the project was raised.

Arts charity the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration says the planned museum is one step closer to becoming a reality after receiving a £3.75 million grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Once completed, the scheme will see a group of Grade II-listed buildings at New River Head converted into a national centre for illustration, named after one of the UK’s best-known illustrators, who drew Roald Dahl’s BFG and Matilda.

The funding means £11.5 million has now been secured to develop the Clerkenwell site.

Work can now begin on the project in autumn, with an expected completion date in 2025.

Mr Blake said: “New River Head will be the most extraordinary home for the art of illustration; the building could not be more appropriate if we’d designed it specially, and it’s setting is especially charming and sympathetic.

“One day it will show some of my archive of several thousand original drawings but, much more importantly, it will be an international centre for the display, discussion and celebration of the extraordinary wealth of illustration.

“We’re thrilled and thankful to have The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s support behind us.”

Plans for the centre were approved by Islington Council in 2022, with the hope that the museum could open by the end of last year.

Times Series: Artist's impression of Quentin Blake Centre for IllustrationArtist's impression of Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration (Image: Nora Walter)

Times Series: New River Head as it looks nowNew River Head as it looks now (Image: Justin Piperger)

But external factors, including economic uncertainty after the pandemic and construction costs, delayed the charity’s plans.

The museum is expected to house galleries, a learning studio, gardens, a cafe, and Blake's 40,000-strong archive.

Work to convert the derelict waterworks will be led by Tim Ronald Architects, a Clerkenwell-based practice.

The firm has won awards for projects including Wilton’s Music Hall, Ironmonger Row Baths, The Landmark Ilfracombe and Hackney Empire.

Times Series: Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration has secured a £3.75m grant from The National Lottery Heritage FundQuentin Blake Centre for Illustration has secured a £3.75m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund (Image: Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration)

Eilish McGuinness, chief executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “The renovation of the historic engine house and surrounding buildings will ensure that the story of the New River, opened in 1613 to supply London with fresh drinking water, continues to be told.”

Backers of the project include charitable trusts and foundations, philanthropists, Islington Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration was founded in 2002 and acquired the New River Head site in 2019.