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David Kirkaldy's Testing and Experimenting Works at 99 Southwark Street set international standards in testing materials from which everyone’s everyday life benefits today.
Today, this unique Victorian workshop keeps alive our direct link with Kirkaldy's innovation, at the heart of this bustling commercial district of London. The Kirkaldy Testing Museum preserves Kirkaldy's unique Universal Testing Machine - the huge hydraulic powered machine he designed and had built in Leeds - in full working order in the premises he built to house it.
As well as presenting the story of the family who ran the business for almost 100 years and of the wider development of materials testing, the workshop and the Universal Testing Machine provide a unique crucible for new experimentation and collaboration - which can inspire future generations of scientists and artists alike to continue enquiring into the properties of the materials on which we build our lives.
Recognition indeed of the huge importance of this place.
The directors would like to thank Professor David Perrett and the Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society (GLIAS), of which he is Chairman, for applying on behalf of the museum and seeing the up-grading through to its successful conclusion.
There will be regular guided tours between 10.30 and 15.00, and we will, if possible, run tests on Kirkaldy’s machine at 11.30, 13.30 and 15.30.
If you are bringing a group of 10 or more on a normal opening day please send us an email with the time. We can then give you priority and avoid congestion.
For more information about how to get to the museum and entrance details,
please go to the visiting page.
Group visits are possible at other times, although any requests for visits are always dependent on the availability of volunteer guides.
Negotiations on the future of the museum are continuing with the situation now looking more positive.
Whatever happens to the museum the area around is changing. In particular Prices Street at the back. For more details on the proposed improvements and, if you a local resident, how you can comment. See Southwark Council Planning
The museum hosted one of the events. "Bompass and Parr - Sensed Presence". This has now finished.
Thank you to everyone who came to the Testing Works for our August opening - and for your encouraging words and offers of support for the future. It is inspiring to have the museum alive with visitors of all ages, sharing a fascination and wonder at the survival of the working Testing Machine in its original setting and, above all, the thrill at seeing it in action!
It is an experience we want to bring to many more people and we are doing all we can to heed the universal request not to lose the unique atmosphere. On Sunday 3rd alone visitors told us they were inspired to write articles and explore documentary film-making about the machine. Others simply wanted a chance to get more involved with helping to maintain the Works. It's a rare opportunity these days.
Some of things we heard this weekend:
If you would like to hear from us with updates on the future of the museum, or send us more ideas for support, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.See us on Youtube
The museum receives no funding other than from visitors. Help preserve this amazing piece of our Victorian past for future generations.
If you are looking to partner with us and would like to find out more about getting involved in adding your support, please contact: email@example.com"
"For the Victorians, building bridges with new materials was the nanotechnology of its day but on a truly massive scale. Kirkaldy was at the heart of this revolution and the survival of his testing machine is a vital reminder to us today of the search for truth, even when it isn’t always popular. Everyone with even the remotest interest in how bridges stand should come to Southwark and see for themselves!"
Historian and TV presenter
"Experiencing Kirkaldy’s machine testing materials to destruction gives us direct, exciting contact with the pioneering ideas of this exceptional engineer. But it also offers new ways to explore ideas around art, science and innovation. Ensuring this museum has a sustainable future is essential if we are to inspire people from every background and discipline to continue asking these questions."
Dr Daniel Glaser
Director, Science Gallery London,
King’s College London
Sunday 7th December 2014: Similar visitor numbers to November.
The museum is run entirely by volunteers. Once the future is settled we will need more helpers.
Last Update: 5 January 2015