Whilst you are unable to visit in person, IWM have created an interactive timeline where you’re able to explore the HMS Belfast Story. Discover it’s history, hear the unique stories of those who served on board, and read about the adventures that the Royal Navy cruiser embarked on as a world-touring warship, from the Arctic Circle to East Asia. Explore the timeline here. Image: HMS Belfast leaving Scapa Flow for the Normandy beaches, June 1944. © IWM (A 25665) ©IWM (A 25665)
Believe it or not, between 1930 and 1970 the Tower of London used to be just at popular for its beach as it was for it Tower. Families would flock to the ‘seaside’ even dipping their toes in the ‘sea.’ Children would build sandcastles and eat ice cream whilst there was entertainment and deck chairs to rent. Many of the families who went to the beach were from the East End and couldn’t afford to go to the seaside in holiday, and would regularly visit. The beach was officially opened in 23 July, 1934 when King George V declared the area would remain free for the city’s children to use. The beach closed during the war, but resumed in 1946. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that there were concerns over pollution in the river with the beach officially closing in 1971. Image: Henry Grant
A series of interactive workshop for families who want to discover something different this half-term at the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret. Frankenstein’s Methods Tuesday, 22 October & Thursday, 24 October, 2:00 PM -3:00 PM How did Frankenstein actually make his infamous monster? How did Victorian surgeons practice dissection? Where did they get dead bodies from? Do our bodies really have a spark of life? Join this interactive drama-based family workshop in our Victorian operating theatre and explore the science behind Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Be ready for some gory details about dead frogs, dead bodies and things coming back to life! Double Double, Toil & Trouble Wednesday, 23 October, 12:00 PM -1:00 PM An interactive potions class and creative writing workshop in the atmospheric surroundings of The Old Herb Garret. Participants will learn about the use of animals and herbs in the history of medicine. They will then use our collection as the inspiration to create their own poetic variations on the famous witches spell from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Double Double, Toil & Trouble. Pomander Pumpkins Friday, 25 October, 2:00 PM -3:00 PM For hundreds of years it was believed that if you breathed in a horrible smell it would cause you to become very unwell. As a protection, people would carry a scented ball called a pomander, which would be held to their nose if they were entering into a smelly area. Join this crafty and creative family workshop to learn more about historical and contemporary herbal health and wellness and make your own Halloween themed ‘pumpkin’ pomander to take home with you. These family workshops are free but the general Museum admission applies. Please contact the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02071882679 as booking is essential for this event and there are limited spaces available. All materials will be provided by the Museum, please note that sewing needles will be used in this activity. Please Note: *Access to the Museum is through a 52-step spiral staircase.
• Saturday 29 – Sunday 30 June, daily • FREE with admission entry To celebrate the official anniversary weekend, meet the workers, engineers and passers-by that once inhabited Tower Bridge. Taking inspiration from the ever-growing archive of personal histories from the lifetime of the Bridge, costumed actors will perform across the Bridge, bringing the story of the opening weekend to life. For more information on the 125 anniversary weekend visit: towerbridge.org.uk/125
All hands on deck! The whole family is invited to take part to help keep the iconic warship, HMS Belfast, in tip-top condition. Ship Shape Saturdays will be led by our expert conservator, where visitors can drop in and learn what it takes to preserve HMS Belfast, IWM’s largest museum object, then put their learning into practice as they work through specially-assigned tasks searching for hungry insect pests, restoring the ship’s original fittings and furniture, and caring for fabrics with specialised tools. 28th July to 25th August Every Saturday, 11am-1pm, 2-4pm
Meet veterans and eyewitnesses from home and overseas who have lived through periods of conflict and hear more about their experiences. From life at the front line and being evacuated during the Second World War, to living through the Korean and Falklands Wars, these family-friendly sessions allow you to get an insight into conflict that you wouldn’t find in the history books from those who witnessed it first hand. 11am – 3pm (drop in)
For one night only the Old Operating Theatre Museum’s Herb Garret will transform itself to accommodate a very special Mad Hatter’s Tea Party! It would be only appropriate that this experience will have specialty teas, including herbal ones inspired by the Herb Garret. In addition, guests will be able to choose from a range of amazing homemade baked goods and savoury treats to nibble on. While in the Museum, guests will be welcomed to follow the white rabbit to learn about 19th century insane remedies to cure everything and listen to an alternative take of Alice Adventures in Wonderland in the Operating Theatre. An imaginative experience that promises to be unforgettable. Limited spaces available Price: £25 *Access to the museum is through a 52-step spiral staircase.
Explore the iconic Shad Thames and discover its evolving identity at this free event, part of the upcoming London Festival of Architecture. Starting with local hospitality in a riverside restaurant, you’ll then hear about the area’s 19th century history, its reinvention through regeneration in the 1980s, and current developments. The discussion will be framed around buildings and social history from all periods as well as the riverside location, and the two bridges shaping Shad Thames – Tower Bridge and St Saviours Dock footbridge, both of which have exciting developments coming up. The event will end with a short walk around the area, finishing at Anise Gallery/AVR where you can visit their LFA exhibition “Scents of Shad Thames: Experience history through the senses” which explores the identity of Shad Thames in unexpected ways. Timings 10.30 Meet at Browns (Private Dining Room), Butlers Wharf Riverside Join us for refreshments and hear from different speakers about the past, present and future identity of the area. 11.30 Leave from Browns A short guided walk around Shad Thames, taking in historical buildings as well as current and future developments. 12.30 Visit to Anise Gallery, 13a Shad Thames Drop in to see Scents of Shad Thames.: Exploring history through the senses, a multi-sensory exhibition which includes discovering Shad Thames through virtual reality and other unexpected ways.
The Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garret hosts a talk by author Ruth Richardson on the topic of death and the body in 19th century England. Before 1832 dissection was a feared and hated punishment for murder. The 1832 Anatomy Act requisitioned instead the corpses of the poor, transferring the penalty from murder to poverty. The Anatomy Act contributed to the terrible fear of the Victorian workhouse and influences attitudes towards death even today. This talk by author Ruth Richardson analyses the subject drawing on many disciplines to explore the fundamental issues of folklore and science, life and death and the political struggles surrounding ownership of the body in the 19th century. ‘A heartfelt dilemma whose history is movingly explored….Passionate, powerful and elegant’. Roy Porter, The Guardian. April 26th. Doors will open at 6:30 PM. Tickets
Head to HMS Belfast and help celebrate her 80th birthday on the weekend of 17 – 18 March. Now a London landmark on the River Thames, on March 17 1938 she was launched by Mrs Neville Chamberlain to the cheers of hundreds of spectators. Since then she has served in the Arctic Convoys, fought in the Korean War, travelled the world and, famously, played a key role at the D-Day landings. On 17 March, you can meet veterans from across HMS Belfast’s 80 year history and learn about what it was like to live and work at sea. A number of free events on board include the return of Signals at Sea, where families can learn how lights, radios, codes and flags were used to pass messages from ship to ship. You can also learn how to send your own name in Morse Code, as well as a new signal created specifically for the occasion. Enjoy a slice of birthday cake created by Sophie Faldo, the 2017 winner of The Great British Bake Off, grab a souvenir photo in our Birthday Photobooth and try out some temporary tattoos to complete your Naval look. For visitors over 18, you can also enjoy a complimentary rum punch, inspired by the ‘tots, sippers and gulpers’ that were part of life in the Royal Navy all those years ago. Alongside all these activities, don’t miss your chance to explore all nine decks of the most significant surviving Second World War Royal Navy warship, still moored today on the River Thames.