Director’s Diary: Billy Biscuit and ‘Floating Capital’

This week we hosted two successful visits from City & Village, in partnership with Museum of London Docklands and as part of the Crossrail exhibition Archaeology of the Tunnel . On 9th May the same exhibition stages a special event details here  Midnight Apothecary’s Saturday cabaret with Tricity Vogue sold out and was a great success. If you missed it, cocktail events in the roof garden start every Friday and Saturday from 5th May. My talk at The Royal College of Radiologists, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, on Friday provided an interesting footnote to our Thames Tunnel cartoon by Robert Cruickshank (brother of Charles Dickens’ illustrator George), now a greetings cards on sale at the Museum:

Strong Symptoms of Water on the Brain and Logic’s spread of ‘no use’ in the Floating Capital, 1828

The portly figure is Billy Biscuit or Sir William Curtis Bart. His factory in Wapping provided biscuits for the navy, land for the Thames Tunnel shaft north of the river and capital to set him up as banker and later Lord Mayor of London. Is he is trying to sell land or shares to to the man with the umbrella?

Next week we have two more visits from City & Village. On Saturday I fly to Tampa, Florida to join Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship Jade where I will be giving talks on Brunel every day at sea. The ship sails on Sunday for Key West, Miami, Azores, Cork and Falmouth. I will of course blog as we cross the Atlantic, on a journey first made under power by IK Brunel! Here are the titles of my talks on the high seas:

i) Crossing the Atlantic
Ten weeks – ten days – ten seconds. Brunel: the Man who Shrank the World!

ii) Holiday Railways
Henry Flagler created Florida, Isambard Kingdom Brunel created Cornwall & the English Riviera

iii) The Shopping Arcade that Changed the World
Trains in an underwater banquet hall, ballroom, and fairground: Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the Eighth Wonder of the World in London

iv) Mayflower sailed from London
The Pilgrim Fathers called at Plymouth (and Southampton), but the ship sailed from and returned to Rotherhithe in London

v) All at Sea with Shakespeare
The shipwreck in Bermuda that inspired a play

vi) East India Company: Seventeenth Century Robber Barons
Businessmen with the largest private army in the world: half the world’s trade, quarter the world’s land

vii) Famous London Bridges
And the three Brunels that built them

viii) The Oldest City in London: Southwark
Shakespeare at the Globe, sexual favours at the Bishop’s Palace

And here are details of events this week:

Sunday 23rd April
10.40 riverside walk from Bermondsey tube offered in partnership with London Walks
12.30 The Thames Tunnel: Talk at Acton Depot Open Day, London Transport Museum

Monday 24th April
10.40 riverside walk from Bermondsey tube offered in partnership with London Walks
10.40 private heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks
18.00 bus tour and descent of Grand Entrance Hall with British Land

Tuesday 25th April
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks

Wednesday 26th April
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks
11.00 City & Village Tours
18.15 riverside walk from Bermondsey tube offered in partnership with London Walks
18.30 Royal Docks Learning & Activity Center (RDLAC): talk on Brunels’ Tunnel
19.15 Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Society. Talk on Medieval London Bridge by Lionel Wright
Thursday 27th April
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks
10.00 Hollydale Primary School meet Brunel in Person
11.00 City & Village Tours

Friday 28th April
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks

Saturday 29th April
10.40 heritage boat trip from Embankment tube offered in partnership with London Walks
13.30 lunch at the Tunnel Club, Mayflower pub upper room