At 99 Southwark Street lies a remarkable little museum. It is remarkable because it isn’t actually a museum at all. It is a functioning testing works.
The Kirkaldy Testing Works
The Kirkaldy Testing Museum is actually an English Heritage listed building which houses David Kirkaldy’s pioneering testing machine.It is a huge hydraulic machine which was designed by David Kirkaldy, a Scottish engineer, in Victorian times to test the strength of materials, especially metal.
After the industrial revolution bridges and other structures started to be made out of new materials like steel and Kirkaldy’s innovation set the international standards for testing which we benefit from even today.
You can visit the works, which still get asked to test certain items today. They have crushed pianos, cars, tennis rackets and even tested how much string is weakened by having a knot in it.
It’s open on the first Sunday of the month for live demonstrations and a short lecture but you can also make a private appointment and have them stretch, twist or crush something of your choice!
What is incredible is that the building is actually a part of the machine. So they aren’t allowed to change anything as it’s all connected to the massive machine.