Saturday, July 17, 2010

Greenwich Maritime Museum Library-07/12/10

(Image availabe from

The National Maritime Museum houses the main museum, the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House. It became a World Heritage site in 1997. The museum was established by an act of Parliament in 1934 and was opened to the public in 1937.

Visiting the Observatory included viewing Astronomy Centre, Flamsteed House, and the famous sea clocks of John Harrison. Here I stood over the Prime Meridian of the World, at 0 degrees longitude! Just the climb up to the obersvatory proved to be worthwhile, as the view over the city below was magnificent. I also touched "the oldest thing you'll ever touch", a rock that is 4.5 billion years old.

I paid a quick visit to Queen's House and saw the Tulip Stairs. This is a spiral staircase that has no central support column, the first of it's kind in Britain. There are many paintings throughout the House, some portraits, some seascapes. The House was completed in 1638 and was a summer house for Queen Henrietta Maria the wife of Charles I.

At the museum itself can be found several galleries and exhibits including collections of ship models, the uniform coat (with bullet hole) that Nelson wore during the battle off Cape Trafalgar, and explorations of the world and oceans to name only a few. It is in the main museum that Caird Library is housed. It is possibly the largest maritime museum in the world, and includes materials on emmigration, navigation, piracy, voyages, and exploration. 12 staff members work in this publicly funded library. It contains four miles of shelving, houses 8,000 rare books, and has an archive catalog of 70,000+. Here I got to see a list of crew members and their positions on the HMS Caledonia. I also saw a weighted book, a tactic used where lead shot was placed in the spine of a book, so that it would sink rather than leave important information in the hands of the enemy. I also got to see and feel a series of little books made from the wood, which rumor has it was of the Royal George which sank. They are small volumes with leather bindings and silk ribbons and tell the accounts of the loss of the Royal George which sank in 1782 right in the harbour with the families of the sailors on board, killing 900 people. The highlight for me was viewing a book called "Buchanon's Domestic Medicine", written and used byBuchanon who was the ships surgeon on The Bounty (from "Mutiny on the Bounty")!

No comments:

Post a Comment