New chapter for Oxford Story Museum

Gripsure has played a key part in the transformation of the Story Museum in Oxford.

The much-loved attraction has undergone a £6 million revamp, which involved extending, altering and refurbishing a mixture of existing buildings to create space for interactive exhibitions, displays, theatre performances and activities.

At the museum’s core is a courtyard with a bespoke steel and timber feature staircase and walkways, which connect three main buildings, including the 19th Century Rochester House and a former postal office.

Gripsure’s Classic boards with three non-slip aggregate inserts have been used to provide a safe, non-slip surface on the courtyard’s feature staircase and along the curved walkways.

Gripsure Classic deck boards achieve the highest non-slip safety rating on the market, meaning museum-goers – many of them young children – can safely work their way up, down, back and along the circular route as they explore various magical storytelling worlds, including a whispering wood and an enchanted library.

Project Manager Barry Doyle of Buckingham-based construction firm Edgar Taylor said Gripsure decking was a great choice. He says: “It had to be non-slip because it’s a museum and there are children going up and down the stairs all the time. The decking needed to be safe.”

Gripsure’s Classic boards were chosen with a mixture of widths selected to suit the curved nature of the staircase.

The company’s Step profile was also used, which has a wide insert. As well as being a safe choice, the contemporary look of the Classic timber boards blends in well with the style of the museum’s timber and steel staircase and walkways.

“This was a project of passion for the people that ran it,” says Barry, adding that it was vital to get details, such as the decking exactly right. “The staircase and external walkways are an important part because they effectively tie the buildings together on all floors.”

Telling the story

The Story Museum was founded in 2003 and initially operated as a virtual museum before moving to premises in Rochester House, Pembroke Street. The redevelopment project first started in 2018 and was broken down into ‘chapters’.

The Story Museum, which has worked and associated with authors and illustrators including Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, Jacqueline Wilson and Quentin Blake, was finally able to open its doors again in 2020, to the delight of children and their families.

The renovation project – led by Purcell architects – has been mentioned in the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Journal and was also a finalist in the Art Fund’s 2022 museum of the year.