The rear of The Museum
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We do not have a phone number. The one on Google is not ours.
We do not have a phone number. The one on Google is not ours.
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.
There will be regular guided tours between 10am and 3pm, with a run of Kirkaldy’s machine at 2pm.
However machine running is dependent on the availability of enough qualified vounteers and will be decided by the person in charge on the day.
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 and at the moment we do not have many people who can do things during the working week.
The museum will only be open at the times of the tours. Please queue outside on Southwark Street, the maximum number on each tour is likely to be around 25.
This is London Open House Weekend and although we are not taking part this year, we welcome those who are out and about for Open House.
Kirkaldy's Testing Works has reached the final four in the search for the 2016 'Southwark Blue Plaque' - and voting is now open to choose the winner. The nomination for Kirkaldy's, made by the former borough archaeologist, follows Historic England's recognition of the huge importance of both the Testing Works and the Universal Testing Machine by upgrading the listing to Grade II*.
Southwark Blue Plaques celebrate being "Voted by the people" and recognise the lives and importance of a huge diversity of people and places across the borough. The scheme is administered by Southwark Heritage Association and Southwark News.
There are several ways to vote:
We would welcome enquiries from local companies considering an evening out with a difference for their department or project group, perhaps as a prelude to a meal. The maximum number we can accomodate would be around 25.
The museum is run entirely by volunteers. We now have a new lease but to afford the rent we have to open more often so we will need more helpers.
If you want to get involved, please email us at email@example.com.
17 July 2016: A Point of View on BBC Radio 4.
A L Kennedy ponders the importance of facts... in a world dominated by opinion. Kirkaldy was featured.
December 2015: We have articles in the magazines Model Engineer and Professional Engineering.
1) We were featured on BBC London News Wednesday on 17th June 2015. A longer feature can be watched on London Live TV. Quirky buildings get protective status from Historical England
3) A feature on the museum by The Londonist.
4) Another video on Youtube featuring the main machine and the small Avery.
5) June 2014: Piano Smashing - photos and link to the video.
6) October 2013: James Capper stretching objects - photos and link to the video.
7) 26th September 2013: Concert by OSCILLATORIAL BINNAGE "Music at Breaking Point".
Some exciting activities are planned to take place at Kirkaldys but have been posponed until May 2017. Keep an eye on the MERGE website for details.
You can see Tom's drawings of Tanner Street here:
and on his own website here: www.drawingsofthings.com.
Some sketches by Phil Dean alias the Shoreditch Sketcher, who came to the March 2016 drawing workshop are here
Quote from Tom "I think they are really great!"
15th June 2016: The BBC TV programme on Karl Marx was shown on BBC4. The museum was used as a background location at about 20 min in, with symbolic work being done by two of the volunteers in a Victorian setting. Note that there is no known historical connection between the Kirkaldy Testing Works and Karl Marx.
5th March 2016: We have held the first training session for 6 new volunteers.
11th February 2016: Better Bankside and Southwark Council marked the completion of the works in Prices Street they coordinated. The museum was open too, throwing our doors open – literally – to make the most of our new accessible entrance.
3rd January 2016: The transformation of Prices Street, long hidden by hoardings behind the museum, is now complete creating a wonderful pedestrianised space linking Kirkaldy’s Testing & Experimenting Works with the new Hilton Bankside. The name of the museum and Kirkaldy’s motto ‘Facts not Opinions’ are celebrated in the yorkstone paving, which gives the museum new, level access to our south side entrance.
Click here to see 1977 and 2016 pictures.
5th December 2015: The Museum is used as a background location for a section of the recording of a BBC TV programme on Karl Marx.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org"
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.
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: 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
Last Site Update: 21 Aug 2016