Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Museums, Public Buildings and Galleries - Patent Museum

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Patent Museum, South Kensington.—This national collection is lodged in a building wholly unworthy of the purpose; it is small, badly lighted, and overcrowded. There are, however, few institutions more worthy of a visit. There, crowded together, are mechanical inventions of all kinds, some exhibited in model, some of full size. There are locomotive and marine engines, pumps, bridges, docks, and machinery of all sorts. Of special interest are the primitive steam-engines from which have sprung the enormous development with which we are familiar. There is Stephenson’s “Rocket,” which won the prize at the competition in 1829, and whose velocity was at that time looked upon as alarming. Close by it is the “Sans Pareil,” of Hawksworth, of Darlington, a competitor with the “Rocket.” Even of higher interest is “Puffing-Billy,” the first locomotive ever built, having been at work on a colliery line in 1813. There is Watts’s first “Sun and Planet” engine for winding and pumping. The patent was taken out in 1760, and the engine was erected in 1795. Near it is Newcomen’s Cornish pumping-engine, patented in 1769. Of equal interest, as the progenitors of our cotton industry, are Arkwright’s carding and spinning machines, patented in 1769, and close by is Buchanan’s original carding-engine, patented in 1824 This may be considered the first carding machine of the type now in use. Newsham’s fire-pump, patented in 1721, affords a striking contrast to the steam fire-engines of the present day, but the advance that has been made is still more strongly shown in Robertson’s original engine, built for Bell’s Comet, the first steamboat that ever ran in British waters. Close by the Comet engine, is the first hydraulic pump ever made, by Bramah, in 1795. A conspicuous object is the great clock of Glastonbury Abbey, constructed by _ Lightfoot, one of the monks of the convent in 1325, and still working and keeping time. The sight of these remarkable objects only makes one regret more strongly that so little has been done to preserve the early patents. A museum capable of containing examples of the gradual progress which has been made in all of our various manufactures would be of immense value and interest; but a building very many times larger than the iron shed which is now devoted to the purpose is needed. The museum is at present altogether overcrowded, and in glass cases round the walls are ranged numbers of small models of machinery, which can scarcely be seen, much less appreciated in their present position. The Patent Museum, as it is, excites a vivid regret that it is not the Patent Museum as it ought to be. The museum is open to the public every day, admission free. NEAREST Railway Station, South Kensington; Omnibus Routes, Brompton-road and Fulham-road; Cab Rank, Opposite.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

PATENTS [MUSEUM], EXHIBITION GALLERIES, SOUTH KENSINGTON ... This collection comprises, among other objects of great interest, the first locomotive engines ever constructed, and a historical series of telegraphic apparatus. Admission free daily from 10 to 4, 5 or 6.

Reynolds' Shilling Coloured Map of London, 1895