Spent Saturday morning exploring the wonderful Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, which features all kinds of exotic and local goodies:

  • A replica of the Manchester Baby, predecessor to the Manchester Mark 1. I actually saw this at a UKUUG LDC many years ago, as part of a special pre-dinner trip.
  • Part of the museum buildings is the original Liverpool Road station building (circa 1830) built for the Liverpool and Manchester. It’s an elegant, period building with clean lines and well maintained.
  • The aerospace hall contains a junk-shop of UK aerospace engineering; notably a beautiful DeHavilland Dragon Rapide, the cockpit of a Trident, a Bristol twin-rotor chopper ((which resembles a US chopper so much I originally thought it was one)), many early jet engines, and a bizzare one-third size prototype of the Vulcan bomber, which actually flies (it was built to test handling of delta wings) and is painted lurid orange. Scattered amongst all this are many wooden wind-tunnel models, some of exotic-shaped things that look like Concorde’s evil twin.
  • The ‘power’ hall contains static and railway engines of various kinds; there’s a monster Beyer-Peacock Garratt locomotive, some early electric traction units, and many beautiful steam engines. By far the best aspect of these, compared to any other museum, is that many of the static engines are in working order, and are run up during the day. Operating, they are a complete sensory experience – there’s the sound of whistling steam and moving parts, the smell of oil and smoke, the vibration as pistons thump, and of course everywhere brightly polished or painted cylinders, cranks, valve gear, ball-governors, pressure dials, oil lubricators and so on. ((I didn’t try to lick anything to ascertain if taste is also a factor)). Brilliant.
Posted Monday, May 5th, 2008 under aviation, history, travel.

Leave a Reply