TB Davies was proud to supply a quantity of its Stepmobiles to the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew this spring. Within the Herbarium there are currently over 7,000,000 specimens, representing nearly 98% of all of the genera in the world which are housed in four wings. The curators needed to ensure that each step was easily identifiable and remained in its designated area.
As the steps are supplied in a variety of colours as standard this was easy to achieve by ordering the steps in Yellow, Blue, Red and Green. The steps were purchased as part of a larger program to upgrade the facilities and in particular provide long term safe access to the largest collection of historical plant specimens from all regions of the world.
Herbaria are collections of dried preserved specimens that document the identity plants and fungi. They represent reference collections with many and varied functions including identification, research and education. At the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Herbarium has a central role for research on plant and mycological biodiversity on earth, with 7 million specimens, including approximately 350,000 type specimens.
The Stepmobile is an incredibly versatile step that employs four spring loaded castors that instantly grab the floor when weight is applied to the step. The ease of manoeuvrability means they are ideally suited to use in older buildings with diverse layouts such as the Herbarium.
This eighteenth-century building was originally named Hunter House and was occupied by the King of Hanover until his death in 1851. In 1853, the Herbarium and Library were founded here. Eminent botanists including George Bentham and W. A. Broomfield donated their own collections to that of the Herbarium, and in 1877, the first wing was added to the Herbarium. Three further wings were added between 1903 and 1968. The latest building at Kew to house the expanding collections was erected on the grass quadrangle within the four wings in 1989.
We are back at Kew again this month but this time to look at safe access within the exotic plants of the world famous glass houses.