The Science Museum is a major museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London. It was founded in 1857 and today is one of the city’s major tourist attractions, attracting 3.3 million visitors annually.
Nope, I’m not kidding. Here’s PART the ONE of my inspection of the Science Museum – it’s just too extensive to cover in one blog post!
‘… This is the ‘siren suit’, which bears resemblance to the infamous ‘onesie’, is a practical one-piece item of clothing originally designed by Sir Winston Churchill during the Second World War to be quickly slipped over his clothes in the event of an air raid. The great statesman had a variety of siren suits, which he referred to as ‘romper suits,’ including sombre, military style suits, as well as more extravagant pin-striped and velvet versions. …’
It’s not something that one really expects to trip over. This invention of Churchill’s and his predilection for wearing them was not once mentioned in all of the hours upon hours of droning history spouted at me in my various schools. I’m not sure that I like it, it makes Churchill seem far too cute and cuddly.
Still, this is what the Science Museum does in spades – walk in; wow. Walk around; wow. Change to a different hall or floor; wow. It’s big, it’s bold and it presents the most amazing full-size, real-world treasures in the most laid-back and tasteful manner. This place wil slap you in the face with a haddock – but it’ll wear white cotton gloves and explain why it is doing so as it does so.
There are several items in the museum more disturbing than Churchill’s romper suit. The Nokia Communicator mobile phone for one (yes, I owned one when they were new, and I loved it). The Psion Revo palmtop (yes, I owned one when they were new, and I loved it). The BBC Model-B Computer – my first computer. Mine cost me £200 (about five weeks wages in those days) and I loved it – in combination with a cradle modem it allowed me to access the university mainframes and servers at home instead of having to book time and collect keys from the caretaker for the terminal room at the local college.
The BBC Model-B (from the days when the BBC wasn’t an unprofessional uber-feminist/islamist embarrassment to us all, and actually did useful things) also began to replace my trusty manual Brother typewriter – my first ‘word-processing’ application was one that I copied from a magazine, typing the code in character by character. It worked – it formatted and printed perfectly, and all with about two thousand lines of BBC Basic code.
There are one or two other items of note.
How about James Watt’s actual workbench, where he ever so slightly invented a large chunk of the Industrial Revolution?
Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ Locomotive of 1829ish? It’s here…
Did you know that the Mini was only half invented initially, and that the left-hand side had to be finished off by Issignosisisses’s assistant after the great man got bored?
The Mini was a tad easier to drive than Rover’s JET 1, the world’s first gas-turbine powered car. This wee vehicle idled at 20,000rpm and one had to rely somewhat on the brakes…
As if that isn’t enough to tangle your knickers, how about a rather nice Harrier Jump-Jet for a spot of vertical take-off and landing? Engine, and my Bro, shown below.
Talking of jets, the invention thereof, how about a quick fondle – for fondle it you could, it was on open display – of Sir Frank Whittle’s neat little jet engine, the baby that he gave to the world?
Amazing stuff, all, and I’ve barely scratched the surface (more to follow).
Can I recommend the Science Museum? I most certainly can. An awe-inspiring place, and entry is FREE.
The eating there? Very ho-hum, very ho-hum indeed and I would suggest that if you simply must eat at the Science Museum that you eat elsewhere instead. Or something. That though is of minor import.
Where else could you wander in and see Mr Churchill’s genuine real-life green velvet onesie?
I don’t have a velvet onesie. Most of mine are silk. Or canvas. I have a few canvas ones that I am put into when the moon is full. Talking of the moon, they have a chunk of moon rock at the Science Museum. I’ll show you that next time.