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Monday, 23 May 2011

Brunel Museum

Ian and I went out to play today. It was a U3A visit to Brunel Museum and a walk around old Rotherhithe. Early start, we needed to be at Waterloo station Platform 1 by 10am. Group of 44 attendees, one lady Ian knew from his art class was friendly  but otherwise no one introduced themselves or chatted.

To Rotherhithe station and the museum, really small but enough chairs and the choice between tea or coffee and between 3 flavours of muffin. So civilised. Then a brief talk about Brunel and about the area, I didn't realise how in the C18th and C19th century how international the area was. Of my family from Rotherhithe all of them were born there.

Then a short walk around the area, some of which I remembered from childhood visits to a Great Aunt, but from memory it seemed busier then, we never did tourist/history stuff and I didn't realise how near the river it was. Many of the new developments were lovely, certainly changed from a dockside community.

View of the Thames, apparently at one time the river was filled to capacity so that was why the first tunnel under the River was built. The engineering method was devised by Marc Brunel, that same method mechanised is used today. After all one cannot use cut and cover for a tunnel under a river.

Original premises of the earliest free schools in London, financed by ships captains. School still exists today, albeit in newer premises. 

St Mary's church, Rotherhithe. The pillars are from ships' masts then covered with plaster. There are chairs made from timber from the Fighting Temeraire.

Very high church and from the literature obviously they won't have women priests here.

After the walk, some of which was along Rotherhithe Street, the longest in London. This street is given as an address in some of my family records. John Moore (father's family), died in 1878 at 12 Rotherhithe Street; James Henry Bragg (mother's family) lived at 320 before his marriage. It had been called Rotherhithe Wall previously.

Above and below are views of Rotherhithe Street.

At the end of the walk we went and looked at the street where my grandmother lived, my first record is the 1891 census when the street was called Berkley Street, by 1901 census it was called Clack Street. Think the former name was preferable. I knew the houses had been demolished, my great aunt was moved in about 1962 and there were new semi detached houses in their place which  I'm sure have bathrooms and not just one outside loo.

We walked further along Rotherhithe Street, before returning to the station and went north on the London Overground line, changing at Highbury and Islington station. Richmond train came in as we came down steps. How good was that? Although I've lived in Richmond all my life I had never travelled on what we used to call the North London line before as far as I know. The new trains were lovely, very open, no compartments so in between knitting sock foot admired the views. At Richmond station bought a guide to i-Pad, can't do much until we have wifi modem.

Today's visit reinforced my belief that we have no need to go far away for interesting visits, felt like being on holiday today with sunshine, a tad bit windy but no worries about ash clouds, airport delays, currency or language.


  1. Hello:
    This is indeed a trip down memory lane, and not just for you but for us as well.

    For several years we owned a flat overlooking the Thames in King Frederik IX Tower, part of Greenland Passage, and although we did not live in it permanently, we often spent weekends or longer periods there. So, as you may imagine, all that you write here is very familiar to us.

    We are so pleased that you enjoed a day revisiting old haunts.

  2. Good details and contrast between dark shadows and white areas. You may know the work of the Greek-Italian surrealist artist Giorgio de Chirico, much of whose work you can browse at This one,, has the same feel as your drawings.