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Kirkaldy Testing Museum, London

4.8
#159 of 257 in Museums in London
The Kirkaldy Testing Museum is a museum in Southwark, south London, England, in David Kirkaldy's former testing works. It houses Kirkaldy's huge testing machine, and many smaller more modern machines. It is open on the first Sunday of each month.
The building at 99 Southwark Street became a listed building in 1971, and was promoted to Grade II* in June 2014.
Kirkaldy was born in Dundee in 1820, and educated at Edinburgh University. He worked at Napier shipbuilding works from 1843, where he became Chief Draughtsman and Calculator. He left in 1861 and over the next two and a half years studied existing mechanical testing methods and designed his own testing machine. William Fairbairn had pioneered tensile strength measurement as well as assessing creep and fatigue on large structures as well as small.
Entirely at his own expense, Kirkaldy commissioned his machine from the Leeds firm of Greenwood & Batley, closely supervising its production. Aggrieved over the slow rate of manufacture, after 15 months he had the machine delivered to Southwark still unfinished, in September 1865.
The testing machine is 47ft long and weighs some. It works horizontally, the load applied by a hydraulic cylinder and ram. The working fluid is water not oil. The load is measured by a weighing system consisting of a number of levers with the final one carrying a jockey weight. The operator lets water into the hydraulic cylinder and as the pressure and hence load on the test piece increases the jockey weight is wound along to balance the hydraulic load. As it is wound it moves along a graduated scale and when the object under test fails the number on this scale is noted and multiplied by the weight to give the failure load. The weight can be varied in increments of using slotted plates on a hanger. On the lower scale this reads up to, and up to can be put onto the hanger. A separate jockey weight system above this one allowed the machine to measure loads of up to 1000000lb.
A visit to Kirkaldy Testing Museum represents just the start of the adventure when you use our London trip itinerary builder site to plot your vacation.
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Kirkaldy Testing Museum Reviews
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Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • I don’t have an engineering background, but still found this place fascinating. Sited in a Grade 2 listed building, the machinery inside used for testing, stressing etc is fascinating. As Tim, our ver...  more »
  • Although I live in Ireland, I'm South London born and bred and still can't figure out how I never knew this fantastic place existed! Only found it by chance when I searched for 'engineering museums lo...  more »
Google
  • First rate. We had a couple of hours of entertainment here. Very enjoyable for engineering folks, but also accessible for those otherwise inclined. Would recommend!
  • What a find! Congratulations to all the volunteers who keep open this museum of Victorian enterprise. The subject of measuring the performance of metals and concrete may be arcane, however it was one of the foundations of us having safe machines, buildings, bridges, ships, trains and other infrastructure. The start-up was Scottish persistence, ingenuity and enterprise from spotting a missing link in the industrial landscape. Admirable ... and we'll before electronics.
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