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A sad decline

The grand old lady of Albemarle Street has a relapse

When the Royal Institution first opened its doors in 1799, the public appetite for scientific discourse was enormous. After chemist Humphry Davy received rave reviews for his explosive 1801 lecture series, queues of horse-drawn carriages carrying eager audience members choked London’s streets. The ensuing chaos led to Albemarle Street—home to the Royal Institution—becoming the first one-way street created to improve the flow of traffic in London.

Alas, today the grand old lady of Albemarle Street is no longer in such rosy health. Almost a decade after endowment funds were misspent on an expensive refurbishment programme, further problems have emerged. As we reported in an exclusive story online on 13 September, the misspending continued for a year longer than had been thought, during which time a further £1.6 million was wrongly spent. The discovery takes to £3.7m the sums that the institution must replenish.

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