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East London Six in race for £16m Docklands museum

SIX FIRMS are battling for a £16 million contract to build a museum at West India Dock, east London.

Sources close to the scheme say Ballast Wiltshier, Laing, Kier, Sunley Turriff, John Sisk and Sir Robert McAlpine have been chosen by the Museum in Docklands organisation, an offshoot of the Museum of London.

The contract will be awarded before March, when work is expected to start. The museum is set to open by January 1, 2000.

The project involves the conversion of 3.6 ha of Grade I-listed 19th century warehouses.

The museum will detail the history of London's river, port and people from Roman times to the present day.

Proposals for the site include exhibition galleries, a library and archive facilities, a restaurant, an education centre and areas earmarked for temporary exhibitions.

An £18 million development of luxury flats is also on the cards for West India Dock.

West India Quay Developments, a consortium including Manhattan Loft Corporation, Marylebone Warwick Balfour and London & Easter, is in the process of drawing up a bid list, with tenders expected to go out early next year.

A contract is expected to be awarded in February for work to start in March. Work is expected to take 18 months.