Cambridge Museum of Technology

Cambridge Museum of Technology is set to reopen to the public on 7 June, following a major redevelopment funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England.  I went to meet Morgan Bell, Assistant Curator, for a peek behind the scenes ahead of opening day.

Cambridge Museum of Technology

It’s not hard to find the Museum … just look for the 53 metre tall chimney that dominates the skyline at Riverside.  This chimney and the Victorian buildings that cluster round it formed a sewage pumping station where the city’s household rubbish was burned to create steam to fuel engines that pumped the city’s sewage out to a treatment plant in Milton.  Prior to this, sewage had discharged into the River Cam, causing cholera outbreaks, so this wonderful Victorian engineering transformed public health in Cambridge.  The pumping station was decommissioned in 1968, at which point a group of local campaigners saved it from demolition and turned the buildings into a museum.

Hathorn Davey pumping engine Cambridge Museum of Technology
A Hathorn Davey pumping engine

Post this renovation, you’ll find improved visitor facilities and disabled access and a wealth of new displays, including an interactive model of the pumping station (complete with smell effect!).  The historic boiler has been restored so that the Hathorn Davey pumping engines can run again later this year, once all testing of the steam lines is complete.

Cambridge Museum of Technology
The boiler

A new building houses an exhibition about Pye and Cambridge Instrument Company, with artefacts and touch screens telling the stories of how they grew to make so many innovative products and gained an international reputation for excellence and innovation.  This space is also for school groups and events plus it will be available to hire to community groups.

Cambridge Museum of Technology

The Engineer’s House, just next door to the Museum, is being transformed by partner organisation Othersyde into an indoor cafe space, a bar and escape rooms.  There’ll be a summer bar and food kiosk outside in the garden or you can bring a picnic to eat on the lawn at this beautiful riverside spot.  Lawn games like skittles and outdoor board games will be available and there’s plenty of space for kids to run around.

Phase 1 of the development will be about 90% complete for this pilot reopening on 7 June so if you go to the Museum before 30 September, you’ll get a ticket for a free return visit in the next twelve months.  All the finishing touches will be in place for the grand reopening on 1 October.

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Restoration work has been supported by corporate volunteers over recent months.  The day I visited, a team from Worldpay was hard at work cleaning the Boiler House and a team from Anglian Water has been busy painting.  And there are plenty of regular volunteer roles available.  At the moment, the Museum is looking particularly for Welcome Volunteers and Education Volunteers.  You’ll find details of these opportunities plus opening times and ticket prices on the website.

http://www.museumoftechnology.com

The Old Pumping Station, Cheddars Lane, CB5 8LD

What’s on in Cambridge – June

Well, Summer has arrived here in Cambridge and there’s loads happening in June …. outdoor celebrations as well as indoor activities, many of them free, for those rainy days (hopefully there won’t be too many of those!), lots of music, something for foodies and scientists, in fact something for everybody.  I’ll update this listing as the month unfolds so please do get in touch through my Contact page if you know of an event that I can list here.

Midsummer Common Cambridge
Midsummer Common bathed in sunshine

1st    10am – 1pm  Family Saturdays – Messy Mud.  Get messy with mud, make mud pies and have a go at mud painting.  Free event.  Botanic Garden.  http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk

1st    10.30am – 11pm  Strawberry Fair.  Popular volunteer run music and arts event on Midsummer Common.  Free entry.  http://www.strawberry-fair.org.uk

1st    2 – 4pm  Family First Saturday.  Activities and art making on the theme of “dazzling doodles”.  Free, drop in.  http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk

1 – 2nd    12 – 4pm  Drop in drawing activities for all ages and abilities.  Free, no booking required.  Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street.  http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk

2nd    5.30pm  Songs of Song.  Ancient songs in praise of music, from the British Isles c.600 – 1200.  Two voiced harmonies to harp and lyre.  The Round Church.  http://www.cambridgelive.org.uk

7th    Museum of Technology reopens.  Cheddars Lane.  http://www.museumoftechnology.com  Read more about the Museum of Technology here

8 – 9th    10am – 5pm  Cambridge Town and Country Fair.  Parker’s Piece.  Free entry.  http://www.oakleighfairs.co.uk

8 – 9th    11am – 5pm  Open Garden at 49 New Square, CB1.  Free entry and refreshments.  All proceeds to Red Balloon Learner Centres.

8th    10.30am – 1.30pm  Flower Crown Workshop.  Make your own flower crown.  Includes refreshments, an out-of-hours visit to the House and all materials.  Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street.  http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk

8th    11am – 5pm  Arbury Carnival.  Procession at 12 noon, leaving from Armitage Way.  http://www.arburycarnival.org

8th    11am – 8pm  Cambridge Pride.  Jesus Green.  Parade starts from Jesus Lock at 11am. FB: Cambridge Pride 2019

8th    1pm  Membra Jesu Nostri.  Buxtehude.  Erasmus Chamber Choir and Ensemble.  St Clement’s Church, Bridge Street.  Free entry, retiring collection.

9th    11am and 2pm  Science on Sundays.  Plant genetics from Mendel to Monsanto.  Free, informal, drop in monthly plant science talk (30 minutes).  Botanic Garden, Brookside.  http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk

14th    7.30pm  The Hague String Trio.  Schubert, Beethoven, Krasa and Klein.  The Auditorium, Gonville & Caius College.  Tickets on the door.  http://www.thehaguestringtrio.com

15th    10am – 4pm  Eddington Discovery Day.  Free fun activities and games plus a Soup Disco.  Market Square and Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington.  http://www.eddington-cambridge.co.uk

16th    3 – 5pm  Jazz and Brass in the Parks.  Cambridge Groove Orchestra and Cambridge Jazz Festival Choir.  Jesus Green.  http://www.cambridgelive.org.uk

18th    7.30pm – 10pm  Music: Na-Mara.  Folk duo Na-Mara tell the story of the “Basque Children” through words and music.  Mill Road History Society.  Old School Hall, St Barnabas Church, Mill Road.  http://www.cambridgefolkclub.co.uk

19th    7.30pm  True Stories Told Live.  NCI Club, Holland Street.  FB: @cambridgetruestories  Read more about True Stories Told Live here

20 – 23rd    Wimpole History Festival.  A weekend of history and heritage for the whole family with talks, debates, book signings, performances, historical walking tours, workshops, activities and events.  Wimpole Estate.  http://www.wimpolehistoryfestival.com

21st    6pm  Summer Night Market and Open Air Cinema (Peter Rabbit/Mamma Mia Here We Go Again).  Free event.  http://www.cambridgebid.co.uk/open-air-cinema-night-market

21 – 28th    Chesterton Festival, including Community Fun Day (22nd).  http://www.chestertonfestival.wordpress.com  Read more about last year’s Festival here

22nd    10am – 4.30pm  Zoology Live!  Live animals, hands on activities and expert lightning talks for all ages.  Free, drop in.  Museum of Zoology, Downing Street.  http://www.museum.zoo.cam.ac.uk

22nd    7.30pm  Coronation Anthems.  Handel, Boyce and Blow.  Collegium Laureatum.  West Road Concert Hall.  tickets@collegium.org.uk

23rd     3 – 5pm  Jazz and Brass in the Parks.  Cambridgeshire Youth Jazz Orchestra.  Jesus Green.  http://www.cambridgelive.org.uk

23rd    6 – 7pm  In Good Company.  Music for a summer evening, with traditional and classical pieces.  The Lucy Cavendish Singers.  Sidney Sussex College Chapel.  All proceeds support the work of Cambridge City Foodbank.  http://www.lucycavendishsingers.org.uk  Read more about Cambridge City Foodbank here

23rd    7.30pm  Singing on the River.  A selection of madrigals, part-song and close-harmony from The King’s Men.  Back Court, King’s College.  Bring a picnic!  Tickets from shop@kings.cam.ac.uk or 01223 769340.  http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/events/concerts-at-kings

24th    7.30pm  A Midsummer’s Day Concert of Georgian Song.  Chela and Buska, the Cambridge Georgian choirs.  Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington Street.  Free entry with retiring collection.  Tickets from chelatickets@gmail.comhttp://www.georgianchoircambridge.wordpress.com

28 – 30th  Foodies Festival, Parker’s Piece.  http://www.foodiesfestival.com/cambridge

Chestnut tree at King's College Cambridge
The chestnut tree at King’s College is 160 years old!

 

 

Riverside Tea Garden at Cambridge Museum of Technology

There’s a massive chimney that dominates the skyline down at Riverside.  It’s in amongst a cluster of Victorian buildings that make up the Museum of Technology and I’ve walked past it dozens of times but never really knew what it was all about.  When I heard that there’s going to be a pop up Riverside Tea Garden there this summer, I decided to find out more and met with Assistant Curator, Morgan Bell.

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Built in 1894, the 53 metre tall chimney is part of a Victorian sewage pumping station which is now the Museum.  Here they burned the city’s household rubbish to create steam to fuel engines that pumped the city’s sewage out to a treatment plant in Milton.  Prior to this, sewage had discharged into the River Cam, causing cholera outbreaks so this wonderful Victorian engineering transformed public health in Cambridge.  The pumping station was decommissioned in 1968, at which point a group of local campaigners saved it from demolition and turned the buildings into a museum.

Hathorn Davey pumping machine Cambridge

Owned independently and funded by admission fees and donations, the Museum houses the last Hathorn Davey pumping engines in the world that still work.  It has also built up a collection of telecoms equipment, televisions and radios from Pye and historic scientific instruments from Cambridge Instrument Company.

Hathorn Davey pumping machine Cambridge

The Museum is currently closed as there’s a major redevelopment under way, thanks to money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Restoration of the old buildings is complicated and painstaking as they are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and permission is needed even to paint in there!  There are plans for a new building to house exhibition and learning space plus a cafe building with views over the river.  The boiler is being repaired so it can once again supply steam to run the pumping engines and they’re hoping to be open by mid 2019.

Boiler at Cambridge Museum of Technology

This redevelopment is about preserving heritage of course but it’s also about inspiring a generation of future engineers and innovators.  Jinx St. Leger, the Education Officer, tells me about the outreach programme with primary and secondary schools, encouraging students to look at STEM subjects in a new light.  “It’s teaching engineering by stealth,” she smiles.  “We make stomp rockets, create origami, make print blocks and masks and use a morse code machine to send and decode messages.”  Jinx will be running four craft based and four engineering based events over the summer at the Museum of Cambridge (check out http://www.museumofcambridge.org.uk/events for more details).

Cambridge Museum of Technology

Now back to the tea and cake … on Sunday afternoons between 15 July and 5 August, you’ll be able to enjoy drinks and cream teas at the Riverside Tea Garden in idyllic surroundings on the Museum’s lawn overlooking the river.  There’ll be stalls selling treasures, crafts, books, clothes, baked goods and produce.  And I’ve booked my ticket for The Floating Museum, a boat trip happening on various dates through the summer, during which you’ll discover more about the city’s industrial heritage along the river.  All profits from these ventures go back to the Museum to help fund the restoration.  Full details, plus a booking facility for The Floating Museum, are on the website.

http://www.museumoftechnology.com

The Old Pumping Station, Cheddars Lane, Cambridge CB5 8LD