The front of KTMThe front of The Museum
The rear of KTMThe rear of The Museum

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Why is the Kirkaldy Testing Museum important?

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.

Next Regular Openings

Evening working session for volunteers old and new

Thursday 21st September - from 6:00 pm

Existing and new volunteers welcome. This is a chance to get jobs done that we do not have time to do on the other days.

The first one in November 2016 was a success so if possible this will be a regular monthly event.

If you are coming please let us know via email to roz@testingmuseum.org.uk

First Sunday of Every Month

Sunday 1st October between 10.00am-4.00pm
Entrance fee: £5     Concessions: £4

There will be regular guided tours between 10am and 3pm, with a run of Kirkaldy’s machine at 2pm.

We have no visitor waiting area so if possible could people arrive on the hour or the half hour.

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

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. We would prefer bookings for the 3rd Saturday of the month at either 11 am or 2 pm.

A machine run will NOT be included in a group visit unless this has been agreed in writing between the museum and the group leader.

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. Please email us at info@testingmuseum.org.uk.

We have had a number of enquiries from organisations wishing to use the museum to host meetings during normal business hours. We will respond individually and may be able to help but please note 1) we are run exclusively by volunteers, 2) we do not have much free space as it is taken up with testing machines and 3) out sanitary facilities are not up to modern standards.

Become a Kirkaldy volunteer! - Click here to find out more

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 info@testingmuseum.org.uk.

Media Coverage - Click here for a summary

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.

Videos

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

2) Joolzguides video showing the machine in action. Many thanks to Julian McDonnell of www.joolzguides.com for this.

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".

Drawing workshops with Tom Pearce held at the museum in 2015 and 2016.

You can see Tom's drawings of Tanner Street here:
uglyduck.org.uk/portfolio/drawings-of-things.

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!"

News Summary - Click here for more news

31st May 2017: Evening opening for London History day. We had around 25 visitors and did a machine run.

May 2017: As part of the MERGE Festival a very special event was held at Kirkaldys from 17th to the 21st May. See the MERGE website for details.

April 2017: Museum ground floor ceiling reboarded and painted. Ground floor displays reorganised.

Support Kirkaldy Testing Museum - Click here to find out how

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: partnerships@testingmuseum.org.uk"

All donations are gratefully received.

June 2014 English Heritage (now Historic England) Upgrade Listing to Grade II *
Listing Details Here

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.

August 2014 opening - some reflections

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:

  • "Most museums now lay it out for you on a plate. Where else can you still experience that sense of walking into a working workshop? Please don't lose that!"
  • "As soon as I saw that a visit involves wearing goggles I was hooked."
  • "Engineers studying today don't get the chance to see real machines up close any more - this is a unique opportunity, and in central London no less, to do just that! We owe it to engineers of the future to keep this place authentic and intact."

  • 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: info@testingmuseum.org.uk.

    Endorsements. More here

    "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!"

    Dan Cruickshank
    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
    london.sciencegallery.com

    Last Site Update: 16 September 2017