An island light

I have an update to the post ‘Sights‘, published on Friday night. In that, I wrote about the Wren Library within Trinity College, Cambridge, which had intriguing markings on the doorway. The Wren Library have replied to my enquiry. To summarise, the markings reflect a parish boundary that intersected the Wren and indeed Trinity College. One side is All Saints, the other St Michaels. The years mark when the boundaries were reviewed during the 19th century. So, there you are. And now for something completely different…

Unfortunately I didn’t get much time to get a proper look round the Science Museum. I had looked at the wrong set of opening times and I only had an hour rather than two there. What I managed to see was well worth the trip to London though no doubt there would be far more if I had spent longer.

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Ada Lovelace display

The Ada Lovelace display was small but very interesting, featuring a portion of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine as well as some of her letters. Being able to see such a magnificent machine up close, a machine that helped to shape the age we live in today, was incredible and encapsulated all the best of museums, that in their cases are objects that provide an incredible appreciation and impression of the world, piece by piece. No one museum can provide a complete picture of the world but it is possible to have one’s perceptions deeply widened when you step through a museum’s doors.

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Apollo 10 command module

Downstairs was the landing craft from Apollo 10, the one just before Apollo 11 where they went near the moon but didn’t land. Also nearby was a larger display about space, the International Space Station and Yuri Gagarin. Sadly I couldn’t get to the Cosmonauts exhibition that was on, though this was a decent consolation.

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Rocket
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Greenwich Time Service

The gallery beyond this featured George Stephenson’s Rocket, dating from 1829 and one of the earliest and advanced steam locomotives of its day. It was part of a wider display about transport, also including the Greenwich Time Service that generated the pips to be heard at the top of each hour on Radio 4, and a model of the Forth Bridge, a place that felt very far from where I stood in Kensington. Even further still is the Eilean Glas lighthouse, on Scalpay in the Western Isles. The prisms from its lamp, dating from 1907, were not so far from the Rocket. I am fascinated by lighthouses and was delighted to see this represented in the Science Museum. Eilean Glas was originally built in 1787 with its tower built in 1824 by Robert Stevenson. It was one of the four original lighthouses commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Board in the 1780s, the others being at Kinnaird Head in Fraserburgh, Mull of Kintyre in Argyll and North Ronaldsay in Orkney. All this gave the lamp its context, just one of many objects telling our island story.

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Eilean Glas lighthouse lamp

At that point, I had to leave it there as the museum was just closing. My next London visit will need to include a wee spin to the Science Museum for sure, even just to see an island light in the heart of the metropolis.

 

 

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