Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Caird Library

Monday morning started with a boat ride on the Thames to Greenwich for a visit to the National Maritime Museum's Caird Library. Growing up in New England I have grown to love boats, so I was very excited. It was great! The history of the Thames is incredible and to be on a boat on it was great.

Anyway, we were there for the library so I should mention that. Hannah Dunmow was our host; she is an archivist at the Caird. I was interested to hear her perspective. Opened in 1937, the Caird is one of the largest maritime libraries in the world. It has always been open to the public. Sir James Caird donated much of the library and the museum at their inception.

Currently the library is only open 3 days a week, due to a new space being built for them. Most of their holdings are off site at the moment so users are largely required to request materials in advance and visit the library when they have been delivered. The library gets about 3 to 4,000 visitors a year, but that is expected to increase in the new space. The focus in holdings is mainly on immigration, navigation, astronomy, exploration, voyages, naval architecture, merchant and royal navies.

Then Martin, another archivist, showed half of the group some manuscripts. The first was a 1686 atlas stolen from the Spanish by Basil Ringrose! California is an island on the map, which is a bit funny. He also showed us a journal of signal codes for the navy which has lead in the spine so it would sink if the ship was being captured. Ms. Dunmow also showed us a medical book that was on the HMS Bounty and taken onto Pitcairn Island with those who mutinied. I had never heard the story of the HMS Bounty before so I looked it up when I got back to the dorms and it is fascinating!

After the tour of the library we got to roam around the National Maritime Museum for a bit. Mostly I was interested in the Prime Meridian. Whew it was a haul up that hill but completely worth it. We then went to the Queen's House which has some great art but by that time I was too tried and hungry to really enjoy it. Anne, Matt, and I found a really nice pub in Greenwich and had lunch then took the Thames Clipper back to Waterloo.

OH! Next year, if the class goes to Greenwich again, tell all of them about Paul Rhodes bakery. It is on King William Walk. It is like heaven on earth.

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