Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Museum in Docklands

Over the weekend I took myself over to the Museum in Docklands at West India Quay. In theory it should have been a nice and easy journey, as the seagull flies it's only a mile or two. However one broken down bus, getting out of the wrong end of Canary Wharf Station and walking there in the rain made it somewhat more epic. A more epic tale story that will go untold was my quest for pudding on the way home....

Anyway, the museum.

I like my history and I really like my London history. So it's a bit of a surprise that I'd never been to this museum before. It aims to cover the history of the Docks, London and the River since about Roman times.

So what did I think? Well it was heavy on the information but light on the artefacts. I can read about things online or in books, to me a museum is meant to be somewhere I can see things. If I can touch things too that's even better, I really like getting tactile (in a nice way) with history. It seems to make it human and bring it closer. They had a whole lot of information but to be honest looking back not a lot of things to see.

A highlight I do remember were two whale jaw bones, one from the docks and one from the river. That dated back to London's Whaling days (which I was surprised to find out about). They'd been used for some sort of building during their time ashore, one had holes bored through it and the other had rope marks scored around it. And you could touch them too. Fascinating. On the one hand quite sad, the cruelty of the Whaling "business". On the other a real piece of human history. Who had caught the Whale? What had they been used for? Who one day had enough of them and threw them in the river?

There was also an Iron Girder from a warehouse that had been bombed during WW2. The heat had been sufficient to melt the top half of it, and that needs quite a bit of heat. Little things like that hit home what it must have been like.

The museum ended with where my memory of the area began. The redevelopment of the docks and the LDDC. Once again lost of information and panels of reading. Still as said that's when I began to be aware of the area and how close to it all I was (I was a north of the river boy back then). Unfortunately the museum was closing and I had to rush through it.

The very good news is that your £5 ticket lasts for a year, so providing I can find it I can go back and finish it off. I often go to the pubs along there to meet friends so one night I'm sure I'll go back and check it out again.

To bring this to a conclusion of sorts it's a worthy museum. A big reason I got what I did out of it was because of my interest and history in East London, maybe others will get less from it than I. It could do with some more artefacts though.

Oh and there was a mistake in the WW2 section, E-Boats weren't submarines, they were boats. U-Boats were the sinky sinky ones.

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