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RCS building milestone reached with ‘topping out’ ceremony

24 Jan 2020

  • For up to date information on the progress of our building works, see our RCS Transform pages.

Thursday 23 January marked a key milestone for the redevelopment of the home of the Royal College of Surgeons and Faculty of Dental Surgery.

Together with our building contractor Wates, we held a ‘topping out’ ceremony to mark the completion of the highest point in the rebuild of our iconic Grade II listed building. Topping out is a traditional builders’ rite to mark the last beam being placed on a finished structure.

Scroll through photos in our Flickr album below

RCS topping out ceremony

RCS President Professor Derek Alderson and Sir James Wates explained the transformation of the Lincoln’s Inn building from a sprawling warren of corridors, built in the aftermath of the Second World War, to a state-of-the-art training centre for future generations of surgeons.

‘Today marks an important milestone in transforming our treasured home and the world-famous Hunterian Museum,’ Professor Alderson said. ‘We will create a modern, state-of-the-art headquarters for training the next generation of surgeons, and to continue our long history of supporting the exchange of learning and ideas on the future of surgery. The building has been designed to retain our rich surgical heritage, while embracing the cutting-edge future of modern surgery.

‘The RCS has over 27,000 members across the UK and internationally. Our new building will be the nerve centre for the development and proliferation of the best surgical training techniques and practice in the world. Surgical skills taught here in the coming century, will radiate into operating theatres around the world, for the benefit of millions of patients.’

Plans for the future building

The building is due to open its doors to members from Spring 2021 and The Hunterian Museum opening will follow later in the year. 

The iconic pillars, building façade, and the existing library have been preserved and restored. The Hunterian Museum will benefit from a new entrance on the south side of Portugal Street. It will be expanded to occupy the majority of the ground floor of the building, and will tell the story of surgery, giving the public access to John Hunter’s seminal anatomical collections through seven linked halls and galleries, culminating in an exhibition which celebrates modern surgery and patients’ stories.

The new surgical education, teaching, examination and learning resource centre will include the teaching collections of the Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. This modern facility will help us to remain at the forefront of academic and practical teaching of surgery, and to equip future surgeons with skills they need to treat patients in the 21st century.

We will have a ceremonial hall for events such as diplomates days, as well as for formal council meetings, professional networking and academic conferences. 

A new café, lounge area and shop will create a social space in which visitors can relax, work or meet colleagues for a coffee or light refreshments.

The new modern building will also be more environmentally sustainable; replacing poorly performing post-war elements to meet modern environmental standards.

Find out more and see images of our past, present and future in our new digital exhibition.

If you have any questions about project Transform, please contact

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