Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Visit to the Science Museum Library and Archives - Just outside Wroughton

The Science Museum Library is a national library and archive dedicated to the history of science and technology.
It is housed on 2 sites, one in London and one near Wroughton, on the Science Museum's airfield site, just beside the main road from Swindon to Avebury.
The collections are kept in climate controlled stores, so you need to contact the library to arrnage a time to visit, they are open Monday-Friday, they are very keen to have more visitors, so do ring:
01793 846222 or email:
Also visit website pages at:
I was very excited to discover such an amazing repository of fascinating books, journals, maps and drawings.
Here's a taste of what there is to see:
 Here are some of the shelves, reputedly there are something like 46Km of shelves.

This is a drawing of a volcano in William Hamilton's book 'Campi Phlegraei: observations on the volcanoes of the two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society of London.
Basically a study of volcanoes, and below is a close up of the picture:
Below a photo of the Eiffel tower as it was being constructed in July 1887:
The loveliest book was Dickinson's Comprehensive pictures from the Greta Exhibition of 1851 from the originals painted for Prince Albert; the Great Exhibition was housed in a large scale prefabricated ferrovitreous structure built by Joseph Paxton 1801-1865.
Here are some of the drawings:

The detail in the actual drawings is amazing.
Next is a drawing of the 3rd  Lighthouse to be built on the Eddystone Rocks, it was built out of stone by John Smeaton (1724-1792)and completed in 1759, the others built in 1696 and 1709 were destroyed by fire and storms respectively:
And here's a drawing of a bird in Charles Darwin's book on the Zoology of the voyage of the HMS Beagle 1832-36:

And a drawing of  the Magdeburg  hemispheres failing to be pulled apart by 2 teams of 8 horses in 1654:

And a drawing from the book by Alexander von Humbolt 1769-1859: a Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer went to Latin America. He was the first person to propose lands bordering the Atlantic Ocean were once joined:

It's well worth a visit and right on Swindon's doorstep.
There are numerous good pubs to eat in on the way back from the Science Museum.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.