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Vacation 2004, Day 3.
Friday, October 29th
London

This day started out nice and leisurely. There was no requirement to be up at any special time to do anything special and so I didn't. I headed out from the hotel via the Underground station that was in the same building as, but not connected directly to, the hotel. It was just around the corner from the entrance to the hotel in the same building. The first destination for today was the British Museum. I had intended to do this during the 2003 vacation on the way back from Italy but I (and many others I might add) caught some sort of nasty germ in Venice and I just couldn't handle doing it then. Part of the reason for this visit was that there had been some major renovations since I was last there many years ago. These were very unique technologically and I wanted to see them. You will see what I mean in the images below. You will also note my fascination with clocks and timekeeping in these images as well.

The British Museum was originally constructed with a large courtyard in the centre. About the only way they could expand was into this courtyard. They came up with this unique plan to build their reference area (called The Reading Room) in the middle of the courtyard and then to connect the entire complex together with a glass (or some kind of clear material such as lexan) roof. This also assisted with a climate control problem they were having. The whole idea, of course, was to make you feel like you were still out in a courtyard but protected from the elements.

The main entrance to the British Museum.
The recently completed "Reading Room" showing part of the transparent roof.
These next two pictures were taken from a third floor balcony overlooking the enclosed courtyard and Reading Room. The right picture above was taken from just to the left of the lion sculpture in the lower left of this picture. This picture is the other side of the courtyard. The building facades that are seen in both of these pictures are the original unaltered ones built many years ago.

The Reading room is very impressive from the outside. It is even more impressive inside. The picture below is a merging of three still images that will give you some sense of what it is like inside.

The image immediately above shows the skylight in the centre of the Reading Room's roof.

What you have seen so far is but a small part of the entire museum. It has a well known collection of Egyptian artifacts and literally hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of other items. There is way too much to document but one area that attracted my interest was an exhibit on the history of time and the measurement of it. There were all sorts of clocks and equipment that have been used to measure time throughout history. Here are some pictures of the other areas of the museum with a heavy concentration on the clocks...

One of the galleries that houses the Egyptian artifacts.
Another view of the same gallery.
This was the reading room before the new one was built. As you can see it still has many books in it. All of the clock images that follow are still frame captures from digital video tape. These are historically important grandfather and grand mother clocks.
There are display case after display case like this of clocks as they advanced through history. Still more. Just think, there is one man whose job it is to go through and wind all these up. Some each day, some each week, each month and even some once a year.
How would you like to have this monster in the front hall of your house? This is a close up of the face of the big one in the left picture. It is an astronomical clock as well.
The "Congreve" rolling ball timepiece. See the image below for the description of how it works. A closer view of the rolling ball. The dials are the 1/2 circles you can see at the top of the image.

I spent several more hours here and then headed of the the next stop. This day ended up being museum day as I eventually ended up at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum. Victoria and Albert seems to be mainly an art gallery. Art galleries don't really impress me, much. It wasn't really practical to take any pictures there, so there aren't any. The Science Museum is a much more interesting place. This type of museum is interesting but every one you see looks much the same. If you have seen the Smithsonian Museums in Washington and other similar ones, they are all much the same. It was well presented but most of it I have seen previously. I am sure it is great for the people of England who cannot get to see others. There were certainly many there (both adults and children) that seemed very impressed. It just didn't excite me. I didn't take any pictures there either.

By this time it was late afternoon and I was heading back towards the hotel and ended up on the south side of Kensington Gardens at Royal Albert Hall and Albert's memorial. Here is a bit of history and a few more pictures.
Albert was the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria. That means he was her husband but was not of royal lineage. This is the same relationship that Prince Charles thought Camilla Parker Boles would have to him when he becomes king. Just within the last week or two, it has been announced that she would be Queen Camilla and it would take an act of Parliament for her to be anything else. This has caused big grief in Britain. I digress; let us get back to Albert.
There was the famous great exhibition of Science and Technology of 1851 in London (an early version of a World's Fair) held in the Crystal Palace near the present location of the Albert Hall. Albert appears to have been a forward-thinking fellow and over time, campaigned to have a 50 acre area purchased and set up, oriented towards Science, Technology and the Arts. This area still exists today and is governed by a Royal Charter that controls the area for 999 years and a rent is paid of 5 pence a year. Construction started in 1867 and the hall opened in 1871. Albert died in 1861 of typhoid fever, at age 42, never even knowing about the hall. Along with the hall the, 50 acres is now occupied by the Royal Geographical Society, The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Science Museum, The National History Museum, and The Royal College of Music. As you can see, this area has quite a history. Here are some pictures.

View of the Royal Albert Hall from the north side taken from the steps up to the Albert Memorial across the street. The main entrance is on the south side but a picture there wasn't possible.
Albert's memorial close up.
Albert's memorial just missing the steps up to it.
Albert watching over the concert hall with his name on it.

And here is the final picture taken this day, the Hyde Park Hilton Hotel where I stayed.

This completes this day.

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Page Created: March 24/25, 2005
Last Updated: May 9, 2005