Why are the words ‘Facts not Opinions’ carved over the door at 99 Southwark Street?
This is Kirkaldy’s Testing and Experimenting Works, and it was the world’s first independent commercial materials testing house, right here in Bankside’s original innovation district. From the day it opened on 1 January 1874 huge samples of bridges and other engineering structures arrived here from around the world to be tested to destruction on David Kirkaldy’s patented 116-ton ‘Universal Testing Machine’. Kirkaldy’s ‘facts’ were transforming the ‘opinions’ that underpinned Victorian cities.
Today, thanks to a small group of passionate volunteers, you can still experience David Kirkaldy’s single-minded ingenuity. Take the tour and you will see – and smell – the authentic workshop with its working machines, bringing the story of materials testing and the Kirkaldy family to life. It’s a direct link with a pioneering age of engineering and thanks to an education programme being developed with local schools, now it is inspiring future generations. Go and visit – you might even get to break something yourself!
Better Bankside are offering members the chance to see this amazing historic site for free. Click on the button above for tickets.
Photograph (c) Peter Dazeley
Check out our downloadable May events calendar and book your spot now. Plus, don’t forget to share the calendar with your colleagues and invite them to join in on the fun.