Visit London Blog » brunel museum Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Museums at Night 2014 Wed, 26 Mar 2014 11:59:00 +0000

Museums at Night, the annual night-time festival of arts, heritage and culture, will take place between Thursday 15 May and Saturday 17 May this year.

The packed programme sees the UK’s best museums, galleries and public spaces putting on cultural events over the three-day festival. Here’s what to look forward to in London:

Over two nights (15-16 May) the 13 museums along the length of Museum Mile, stretching from Aldwych to Kings Cross, will be opening their doors from 6 to 9pm for pre-booked walking tours run by In Midtown, giving an unprecedented insight into the connections between the various iconic museums.

Following previous years’ success Somerset House will open its doors late for Museums at Night visitors to enjoy exhibitions and displays, including interactive workshops, tours and screenings, all accompanied by live music in the Seamen’s Hall.

The Horniman Museum & Gardens is extending its new family-friendly exhibition Extremes into the night, showing how artists react to extreme environments, with hot music from Zimbabwe, extremely high acrobatics, storytelling by candlelight and film screenings depicting submarine life.

The London Transport Museum is opening late on the Friday for its new exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly – from home front to Western front. Go along to find out the role London buses and bus drivers played during the First World War and how the city prepared for war. There will also be a perfume workshop by Odette Toilette and the opportunity to craft a feathered fascinator with Lulu O’Neil of Slightly Scarlett.

The RAF Museum, Hendon is hosting London-based musical duo Public Service Broadcasting for three exclusive gigs during Museums at Night. Each gig will be hosted in a secret location at the museum, perfect for artists that weave samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material around their electronic set.  Also on the night visitors can help knit a life-sized plane, or dance to the Silent Disco in the shadow of an RAF Lancaster Bomber.

The Royal Artillery Museum is hosting a guided Ghosts of the Royal Arsenal tour. Find out why even battle-hardened soldiers refuse to enter the Academy Building or lock-up the Firepower display alone. There’ll also be bangers and mash and hot cups of tea and coffee to fight off the chill.

The National Portrait Gallery is hosting a special dance performance on 16 May from the English National Ballet, inspired by David Jones’ seminal World War I poem In Parenthesis.

Pandemonium Theatre will stage the macabre Theatre of Blood, Dance of Death, Drink of Life, a reinterpretation of Hecuba and Titus Andronicus, in the underground chamber at the Brunel Museum, where six men died and Brunel nearly drowned. There will also be tango and dance workshops and cocktails at the roof top pop-up Midnight Apothecary bar.

Head over to the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology for an evening of intrigue and subterfuge as visitors must solve clues across the museum to crack the UCL Museum murder mystery. As well as a prize for the team who solves the case, there are prizes for the best dressed detectives, with a drinks reception in The Grant Museum.

You can also create your own political slogan under the expert guidance of Kelvyn Smith, aka Mr Smith, at the William Morris Gallery. Or lift a genuine gold bar weighing 13kg during a rare opportunity to visit the Bank of England Museum after hours.

If all of that just sounds exhausting then join in The Big Power Nap on Friday 16 May at the Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre. The Undercroft gallery – ruins of London’s Roman Amphitheatre – will be converted into a 2000 year old chill-out zone with ambient sounds and a roving masseuse on hand to provide a relaxing break from London life.

Other nap-spaces include the popular Dino Snores at the Natural History Museum, where you can bed in for a mix of music, art, science and cinema, and Kensington Palace is opening its doors late for a Museums at Night sleepover for children aged 7 to 11.

The Museums at Night event programme is always being updated, so to keep on top of all the amazing things going on visit or follow @MuseumsatNight and #MatN2014 on Twitter. The BBC will also be covering the event in various capacities across the three days.

]]> 0
London Bar and Restaurant News: Halloween Food, Cocktails and Events Mon, 14 Oct 2013 12:01:25 +0000 As the witching hour cloaks the streets of London in darkness, a number of the city’s most well-known bars, restaurants and event spaces are turning frightfully ghoulish for Halloween this year.

The Artesian
The Aqui Estoy cocktail (pictured above), served at The Artesian bar in The Langham Hotel, combines Don Julio Blanco Mexican tequila, with smoky Mezcal, finished with cinnamon cuts and rose buds. The cocktail’s scary presentation, in a skull with the eyes having been filled with rice flowers, is worth its £16.50 price tag alone.

The sprawling Victorian railway arches which entomb wine tasting venue Vinopolis near Borough Market (pictured right) will be hosting a special Halloween cocktail making masterclass (31 Oct, £40).

From 17 to 31 Oct, the terrace at Bluebird will transform into an American-style pumpkin patch, and the venue will also be holding a pumpkin-carving master class for kids (29 Oct), serving serial-killer cocktails for adults, and an afternoon tea that replaces classic English scones with ghost cupcakes. In addition to various Halloween inspired dishes on the menu, there will also be a night of scary speed-dating; a Halloween themed evening dedicated to helping singletons find love amongst the cobwebs.

Planet Hollywood
Those with little terrors to entertain, head to Planet Hollywood in central London where Halloween will be celebrated on both 26 Oct and 31 Oct with a two-course, £14.95 offer for adults (£8.95 for kids) which includes ghoulish menu items like the pumpkin soup cauldron starter, Frankenburger mains and Death by Chocolate to finish you off. Free face painting will available for those that dare!

A Secret Location in South London
The Simon Drake Spooktacular (pictured above) is to be held at a secret, 200-year old, gothic Victorian mansion (1 Nov, £45-£85) and the price of the ticket includes a 2-course dinner, haunted cellar tours, fortune telling, wandering magicians, Simon Drake’s illusionist show and zombie dancing until 1am. Halloween fancy dress will be necessary.

The Andaz Hotel next to Liverpool Street Station is home of 1901 restaurant and its floating cocktail bar (not literally, of course). A few years ago, a Masonic Temple was discovered behind a secret door in the hotel and it is rumoured that Jack The Ripper was one of the Freemasons who used it. A cocktail named Jack’s Martini – fresh cucumber, tangy lime, elderflower cordial and Hendricks gin – has been especially created to mark this eerie fact for Halloween.

Archer Street
Mexican Day of the Dead tradition meets Soho’s basement vibe this Halloween with Archer Street’s Don Julio bar (pictured above) where brightly coloured ponchos, sombreros, and skulls of the dead provide the backdrop for sipping tequila cocktails, such as the devilish Highway To Hell.

Brunel Museum
Following last year’s incredible reviews from guests and the media, the Midnight Apothecary Halloween Extravaganza (pictured above) at the Brunel Museum will be a ticket-only event in 2013. Pumpkin-laden revelry will unfold on the beautifully dressed rooftop garden and will include special themed cocktails and free toasted marshmallows around the fire pit. Sat 26 Oct, 5.30–11pm (last orders 10pm), tickets are £5.

The Montagu
From 28th October to 2nd November, The Montagu restaurant will be offering an imaginatively themed Halloween Afternoon Tea (pictured above) which includes Black Liquorice Panna Cotta, Pumpkin Frangipane Cakes and sawn-off finger Cupcakes! The Halloween Afternoon Tea will be served from 3-6pm, £30 per person.

Check out some of the best Halloween in London 2013 events

]]> 1
Where to Find Out More About the Tube’s History in London Fri, 04 Jan 2013 10:00:34 +0000 This year, the Tube is celebrating its 150th birthday. The Tube was the world’s first underground railway, and made a huge difference to the way people travelled in London. Here are some London museums where you can find out more about the Tube’s history.

London Transport Museum

London Transport MuseumYour first stop for any transport-related tourism. At the London Transport Museum you can find out all about the world’s first underground railway, learn about its famous roundel logo and pick up Tube merchandise in the shop, from Tube map iPad covers to books about the Tube.

The museum is great for kids, with plenty of interactive exhibits, including vintage buses to climb on and a simulator giving you the chance to drive a Tube train. This year, the museum is hosting a special anniversary exhibition about poster art on the Tube and has a programme of special events to mark the 150th anniversary.

London Transport Museum Depot at Acton

If the London Transport Museum whets your appetite, head to the museum’s store in West London where you can see the rest of the collection which is not in display in the main museum. There are more than 370,000 objects here, including vehicles, signs, posters, uniforms and photographs. The depot is not open every day and can only be visited on a guided tour or during open weekends. This year’s open weekends are in April and October.

Brunel Museum

Brunel MuseumThe Tube isn’t the only London icon celebrating a big birthday this year; the Thames Tunnel, which connects Rotherhithe and Wapping, turns 170. Built by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this is the oldest tunnel in London.

It was designed to carry cargo from one side of the river to the other, but that proved too expensive and so the tunnel opened instead as a tourist attraction in 1843, with visitors paying a penny to walk beneath the river.

In 1869, the first passenger trains ran through the tunnel. It was later used as part of the East London Underground line and is now part of the London Overground. Take one of the Brunel Museum’s excellent guided tours, where you can enter the Grand Entrance Hall of the tunnel.

People's City gallery, Museum of LondonMuseum of London and Museum of London Docklands

At these two museums, you can learn about the Tube’s construction and how it affected a growing city. At the Museum of London’s People’s City gallery, which looks at the rapid expansion of the city between the 1850s and 1950s, you can find out how the Tube and new technologies in transport transformed the way people navigated the city.

Over at the Museum of London Docklands, the New Port, New City gallery examines how the docklands area has boomed in the past few decades, including the building of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). You can also see part of a DLR carriage on display.

Have we missed anything? Let us know where else you can learn about the Tube

]]> 0
Bonfire Night in London: Plan a Sparkling Night Out Wed, 17 Oct 2012 09:30:39 +0000

By Amanda Craighead-Wheeler

Bonfire Night is a great way to experience London after dark. The Houses of Parliament are where the traditional began – and almost ended – in 1605. As well as over a dozen firework displays in the week around 5 November, London has a wealth of themed parties, gigs and club nights over the weekend where you can get the most bang for your Bonfire Night.

Battersea Park fireworks are one of the biggest displays. As well seeing them on the ground, there’s also the chance to see them on the river and even in the air. Thames Dinner Cruises are offering a Bonfire Night special, with drinks, live music and a special cruise letting your enjoy London at night and alight. The EDF Energy London Eye is offering 30 minute flights, giving you the chance take in not just one display but as many as the eye can see.

There are more unusual ways to remember the gunpowder, treason and plot, too. Club de Fromage at the O2 Islington is a club for those who like to wear silly outfits and party hard, playing all kinds of pop from the last 40 years. The club’s Neon Night special takes place on 3 November with upbeat cheesy tracks, bright lights, friendly faces and fancy dress.

If you want something more erudite, try the Midnight Apothecary on 3 November, a pop up cocktail bar on the roof gardens at the Brunel Museum. Five pounds will get you entry to the opening of the first tunnel under a river, the chance to try cocktails with ingredients handpicked from the museum’s gardens, and of course a bonfire and sparklers.

Have we missed any? Tell us if there’s somewhere you know that paints London red (or green, or gold with sparkles…)

]]> 0
Top 10 Best Bits from the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Sat, 28 Jul 2012 09:00:26 +0000 London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony (rehearsal)Did you enjoy last night’s incredible Opening Ceremony? Danny Boyle’s magnum opus was a thrilling display of the history and culture of Great Britain, and had a massive positive response across the media, social networks, and with Londoners too.

From the rural beginnings with speeches from Shakespeare, through the Industrial Revolution, with nods to our great institutions (the NHS, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the inventor of the World Wide Web), with comedy from Messrs Bean and Bond, Boyle’s show stretched both our imaginations, and it seemed, the walls of the stadium, as the show seemed to encompass the whole world inside the “steel O” to misquote Shakespeare! Here are my top 10 moments from the show, with tips on places to visit in London if you were similarly impressed.

1. Bradley Wiggins and that Huge Bell
What a way to start. Winner of the Tour de France and in possession of a snazzy new yellow jersey, Londoner Bradley Wiggins rang the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, at 23-tonnes cast by the Whitechapel Bell Company (est in 1570). Fancy visiting their factory? You can.

2. Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel
I’m a huge fan of actor Kenneth Branagh, and his reading of the “Isle is full of noises” speech was fantastic. He was representing Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer responsible for many of the UK’s bridges and dockyards. You can learn more about this famous chap at the Brunel Museum, and take a tour through his Thames tunnel in Rotherhithe.

3. London Symphony Orchestra (and, of course, Mr Bean)
Have you ever seen a better one-finger ostinato than that performed by Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean? It was one of several very funny moments, but behind it all was the London Symphony Orchestra, with Vangelis’ tune from Chariots of Fire swelling under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. You can see the orchestra play throughout the year in London.

4. James Bond Visiting Buckingham Palace
Another brilliant comic turn, this time from HM The Queen herself. A pouty Daniel Craig took a trip to Buckingham Palace before executing the most incredible arrival at a party ever; you too can visit the Queen’s residence during the summer months. And if you’re a big Bond fan, don’t miss the current Barbican exhibition about our most famous spy.

5. JK Rowling Reading Peter Pan
Another of my highlights was hearing Harry Potter author JK Rowling reading from Peter Pan, before a team of hundreds of children performed a piece representing the wealth of children’s literature from Great Britain. If you were inspired by the literary display, why not try our Peter Pan Day Out, or visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter to see behind the scenes of JK Rowling’s incredible world.

6. Tim Berners-Lee – Inventor of the World Wide Web
An unsung hero of the modern age, and a key player in the digital revolution, Londoner Tim Berners-Lee made a guest appearance in the Ceremony, live tweeting “This is for everyone” which certainly made me want to cry! You can learn more about computer scientists like Tim at the Science Museum in London.

7. Dancer Akram Khan’s Moving Nod to Mortality
Earlier silliness was tempered with stillness as another Londoner, British Bangladeshi dancer Akram Khan performed a moving dance work called Mortality. Having held the post of associate artist at the Southbank Centre, he’s currently associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, and regularly performs in London. Keep an eye on our dance pages to see him perform again in London.

8. David Beckham’s Speedboat Along the Thames
Later, the mood changed again, as we were treated to the view of the lovely David Beckham sweeping along the Thames on a speedboat. Were you tempted? I’ve done it too, on one of the Speedboat Tours available in London, and I totally recommend it. (I can’t promise you’ll get the same fireworks as you pass under Tower Bridge, but the adrenaline rush is the same!)

9. The Olympic Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick
There were so many well-kept secrets surrounding the ceremony, but one of the best was the cauldron and the identity of the final torchbearers. It was yet another emotional moment when the young athletes circled the stadium, and lit the 204 petals representing each country, which then rose together to create the cauldron. Want to know more about the Thomas Heatherwick Design Studios? There’s an exhibition dedicated to the team on at the V&A until 30 September.

10. The Great British Music
Finally, what about the amazing music that played throughout? So many great British musicians were given a moment in the spotlight: from Elgar to Underworld; from Charles Parry to the Arctic Monkeys; from the Sex Pistols to Dizzee Rascal. If you’re a fan of Sir Paul McCartney, make sure you visit the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing next time you’re in London; you can also pay tribute to the history of British music at the British Music Experience at The O2.

What were your favourite moments? Let us know in the comments below.

]]> 20
Brunel Museum and Thames Tunnel Tour Fri, 27 Aug 2010 10:18:12 +0000 Brunel Museum exterior Very important plaque Rotherhithe Station on the new East London Line. The tunnel runs Rotherhithe-Wapping The twin tunnels under the Thames The Brunel Tunnel once contained shops and entertainers Brunel Museum's Robert Hulse gives a fascinating commentary The slightly scary scaffolding down into the Grand Entrance Hall The circular Grand Entrance Hall - hard to capture on film! Emerging from the not-so-grand entrance to the Grand Entrance Hall

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe and did a tour of the Thames Tunnel and Grand Entrance Hall. It was fascinating.

Father and son team Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel began construction on the Thames tunnel in 1825. It was meant to take three years. It took 18 and was described by tunnel workers as “the worst job in the world”.

When it finally opened, the Thames Tunnel represented a feat of engineering never before seen in the world. It was the first under-river tunnel of its kind, the birthplace of the Tube (globally, as London’s was the first underground railway system).

Although intended for transporting goods off ships beneath the Thames, due to a lack of pulleys, the tunnel’s first use, explained our thoroughly entertaining tour guide Robert Hulse (director of the Brunel Museum), was as an underwater “shopping mall”. And, while the stalls and “Underwater Fancy Fair” attracted astonishing numbers of visitors from day one, the tunnel eventually became a place for shady dealings and, if you’ll pardon the pun, underworld characters.

I won’t say more, because you should see it for yourself. Even better – join a Brunel Museum tour of the tunnel by train (the newly opened East London line goes right through Brunel’s tunnel) and/or take the Thamesside Walk through Bermondsey and Rotherhithe this Bank Holiday Weekend, which includes a tour of the Grand Entrance Hall.

Brunel Museum:
Thamesside Walk: Meet at Bermondsey Tube Station Monday 30 August 2010 at 1.30pm (£8, concs. £6)

The Brunel Museum’s nearest station is Rotherhithe on the new East London line. The Brunel is one  of the Culture Line museums

]]> 1
National Science and Engineering Week 2010 in London Thu, 11 Mar 2010 15:30:31 +0000 Calling all boffins! National Science and Engineering Week starts tomorrow. The week includes all sorts of cool science events for adults, children, students, engineers and scientists in London.

Here are a few of our top picks:

1. Striking Your Own Chord: Journeys into Musical Plagiarism
Why do people plagiarise music? George Harrison was once found guilty of “unconscious plagiarism” in a law suit which cost him a million dollars. In this free lecture for adults, neuroscientists and musicologists explain why plagiarism is pretty likely to happen and give you the chance to try out karaoke pods to find out how unique your music writing skills are.
7-9pm, 17 March at the Science Museum. Free

2. Subterranean Tours
Paying £5 to crawl down an abandoned tunnel might not be your idea of fun, but it will be worth it when you get to the other end and find yourself in the former Grand Entrance Hall of the Brunel Museum. This subterranean amphitheatre has been inaccessible for 140 years and is now open for you to explore.
Afternoons 13-21 March, don’t wear your favourite trousers.

3. Behind the Scenes Tour – Kew’s Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives
This is a real treat – take a sneaky peak at the secrets of The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew! Kew have collected 7 million herbarium specimens and 200,000 artworks during their 250 years and the collections are usually only available to view by horticulturalists and historians. Tours are free but you need to book in advance.
16 March

4. Geek C’est Chic: Fashion in Science and Science in Fashion
Forget leggings, jeggings and treggings, the hottest garment you could possibly be seen in during National Science and Engineering Week is your lab coat. At Geek C’est Chic, London fashion designers will be redesigning the lab coat for the modern scientist. This simple protective garment will be transformed, not just in fashion terms, but using the latest nanotechnology and “smart” materials.
7.30pm on the 19 March at the Bethnal Green Men’s Working Club. Free.

5. Geek Pop presents … The Science Sessions
One of the best nerdy parties in London, the Geek Pop science night promises science songs from Helen Arney, Spirit of Play singing about quantum physics, and rock god Dr Stu and the Neutron Stars.
7.30pm on 18 March at The Miller. Tickets just £2 from

National Science and Engineering Week runs from 12 to 21 March 2010. Find out more information about the events mentioned and check out everything else going on in London at

]]> 0