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.
The Museum was closed on Sunday 5th March to prepare for urgent work to the ground floor ceiling. All movable items on the ground floor have been put into store and the testing machines covered.
Once the works are completed we will need to reinstate the displays, at the same time we will use this as an opportunity to review our layout. This has evolved over the last 20 years or so as we have acquired testing machines and items by donation.
19th March - work has not yet started. Please keep looking here to see if we will be able to open on Sunday 2nd April.
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.
We have no visitor waiting area so if possible could people arrive on the hour and 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.
Note the museum is not open on the 3rd Saturday in April because this is Easter weekend.
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.
However due to planned works at the museum we may have to cancel these as happened in January. Please watch the website for confirmation.
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 email@example.com
Some exciting activities are planned to take place at Kirkaldys in May 2017. Keep an eye on the MERGE website for details.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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".
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!"
Kirkaldy's Testing Works reached the final four in the search for the 2016 'Southwark Blue Plaque'. The nomination for Kirkaldy's, was 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.
We came second. Thankyou to everone who voted for us.
1st December 2016: The museum is saddened to hear of the death of Stephen Humphrey, former Southwark Borough archivist and good friend to the museum over many years. More about his life can be found here.
20th November 2016: Work to upgrade the fire protection facilities is being done by a major construction company. More details to follow shortly.
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.
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: 19 March 2017