Kirkaldy Testing Museum – London (2.7.2017)

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Kirkaldy Testing Museum

We arrived on the Tube – one form of modern technology – as a means to take our children to the Kirkaldy Testing Museum in Southwark, London. This is the home of a magnificent and still functioning Victorian era, scientific measuring machine, which was designed by Scotsman David Kirkaldy (1820-1897) and eventually stationed in a purpose-built London factory (the site of the museum today). In fact, Kirkaldy entitled his device ‘Universal Testing Machine’ (weighing 116 tons), which although premised upon leverage, pulleys and weights, was actually water-powered.  Any substance could be put under a pulling or pushing pressure to see how much poundage it could take before ‘snapping’. In the case of wrought iron, this was very important for buildings, bridges and other structures that were reliant upon iron -girders for their stability and correct functionality.  One of the volunteers – Roz Currie – helped Mei-An use a similar but much smaller machine (made in 1926) which usually tested the strength of parachute cords. Mei-An tested a piece of nylon-type string used to wrap packages sent through the post. the string snapped at 200 lbs of pressure! David Kirkaldy’s motto was: ‘Fact not opinion.’

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