Visit to Museum of London

AT the beginning of August, several Rotary Club members went on a visit to the truly amazing Museum of London, which is located close to St. Paul's Cathedral and the Barbican in the City of London.
The journey to London was uneventful, however, rather than going straight to the Museum from Victoria Station as originally planned, it was decided it would be a good idea to do a small tour through the historic livery company district of the City of London as well. We therefore first went to the 1 New Change Centre for coffee, and to take in the fabulous view of The Shard and St. Paul's Cathedral from the roof gardens, before making our way via Goldsmiths, Wax Chandlers, Pewterers, Surgeon and Barbers, and Plaisterers Livery Halls to the Museum itself. The livery company district is so fascinating that it really deserves a separate visit in its own right.
The Museum of London was opened in 1976 by HM The Queen, and has a unique site overlooking the remains of the original Roman City Wall. The Museum documents the history of London from pre-historic to modern times and is primarily concerned with the social history of London and its inhabitants throughout time. It is jointly controlled and funded by the City of London Corporation and the Greater London Authority, and has the largest urban history collection in the world with more that 6 million objects.
The Museum comprises a series of chronological galleries containing original artefacts, models, pictures and diagrams, with interactive displays and activities for all ages, including Rotarians! In 2010, the Museum had a £20 million re-development, the purpose of which was to place a greater emphasis on the story of London and Londoners from the time of the Great Fire of 1666 to the present day.
Before visiting any of the galleries it was decided it would be best to first have lunch in one of the restaurants and cafes in the Museum.
We all visited the Olympic Cauldron from the 2012 London Olympics, which was given to, and is now very proudly displayed in, the Museum. The Cauldron comprises a series of individual flames supported on arms which were raised and lowered individually as required at the start, duration and end of the Olympic games. In addition to seeing the Cauldron raise and lower its arms and flames, there was an accompanying film showing it being used at the Olympics itself.
The Museum is such a fascinating place, it is not easy however to pick out highlights of our visit. One display which was memorable was the re-creation of the Great Fire of London of 1666. It is the scale and speed at which the fire spread over the 5 days of the event that cannot be forgotten including the complete destruction of such important buildings as St. Paul's Cathedral.
Also memorable was the re-creation of a Victorian high street, with all kinds of shops and commercial premises from pawn brokers to barbers, grocers and public houses. It was interesting to see how many individual street traders there were in Victorian times plying their goods and wares from hand carts, presumably to the displeasure of the shop keepers.
After visiting the galleries that the members wished to see, we all met up again in one of the other restaurants in the Museum for afternoon tea. This restaurant featured a large elliptical laser display board which provided a continuous display of present day statistics about London ranging from the amount of refuse collected each day to the number of bags lost each day at Heathrow Airport.
After our tea we took the underground back to Victoria and the return train journey to Seaford. Everyone said they had really enjoyed their day out and hoped that there would be another such trip to London soon.

posted: Thursday, 9 August 2018

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