Science Museum is, as its name indicates, a science museum, situated
in Kensington, London.
There you will find about 300.000 objects of different origins,
ranging from the first steam locomotives to the space race, objects
used in daily life, telecommunications, medicine, and of course, what
interests us the most, aviation. Even if the models shown are less
numerous than in a conventional aviation museums, there are some very
rare pieces of an exceptional quality.
The museum was open in 1852, starting with a collection from the Royal
Society of Arts and some excesses from the World Exposition. It
included a collection of machines that came from the Museum of Patents
in 1858. In 1883, all the machines from the Museum of Patents were
transferred to the museum in South Kensington. The scientific
collections were renamed to Science Museum in 1885 and a separate
director was appointed in 1893. The art collections were renamed to
the Victoria and Albert Museum by the London Museum of Arts.
Science Museum owns a fabulous collection of famous creations like
Stephenson's rocket, Puffing Billy (the oldest steam powered
locomotive), the first jet engine, a complete section on the history
of medicine, another section on communications and telecommunications
and one on the history of man in space. The museum is really large,
and a single day will be barely enough to watch and go over
The last floor, the hall destined to aviation, contains some really
First of all, the engines. There are not only British engines, but
also Renault, Clerget, Anzani, Rolls Royce with a nice Kestrel, and a
wonderful Sabre. After the piston engines, the jet engines caught our
The part dedicated to the First World War is quite small, but contains
an original Fokker E.III from 1916. Another interesting aircraft, from
the interwar period, is the De Havilland Gipsy Moth used by Amy
Johnson to achieve the first solo connection by a female between
England and Australia.
There is also the Vickers Vimy flown by Alcock and Brown, it is the
first aircraft to have crossed the Atlantic ocean. It is half stripped
so that visitors can observe the importance of the fuel tanks within
the fuselage. That piece of great value joined the museum in 1919!
There is also the Supermarine S.6B, serial S1595, that won the
Schneider cup in 1931. The S.6B was designed by Reginald Mitchell, the
Spitfire's father. A beautiful aircraft, preserved in its original
condition, unrestored, with the famous trophy being displayed in a
showcase next to the aircraft.
One can only be struck by the resemblance between the S.6B and the
Spitfire of which a wonderful specimen, Serial P9444, a Battle of
Britain veteran, is hanging above the S.6B, next to his well-known
brother in arms, the Hawker Hurricane, Serial L1592, a Dunkirker and
Battle of Britain veteran.
Those are not the only WWII representatives, as the museum goal is to
show science and technology advances. A beautiful specimen of the
Messerschmitt 163 Komet, an infamous V1 flying bomb and a V2 rocket
are also on display. The latter is displayed in the large gallery next
to the part relating to the German inventivity and engineering.
But, in this conflict, engineering was not only German. As reflected
by the Gloster E28/39 prototype, the first British jet and a beautiful
piece of British engineering.
Another piece of British engineering is the Hawker P.1127 prototype
which gave birth to the Harrier/Sea Harrier series. The prototype of
the Short SC1 is also displayed in the gallery but taking
a picture of it is really difficult. The list of interesting pieces is
There are record-breaking aircraft, replicas of some famous aircraft,
some of the most important aircraft in British history, dummies, nice
models in showcases and a great didactic exhibition.
By visiting that place, you will have paid a visit to a great museum
even if only about thirty aircraft can be found. Some large aviation
museums would be happy to own such rarities, for sure!
It is quite surprising to find, for example, a marvel like the
Supermarine S.6B as it could easily be found in Hendon, Cosford or
If you are looking for a reason to visit London with your family, this
museum is a very good one, as everybody will find something to learn
and to discover, or will be able to admire marvels born from the
fertile human imagination.
In addition, the museum lies at a short distance from the famous
Harrods mall (where your significant other will happily make good use
of your credit card) or from one of the most beautiful art museums.
England will always be recognized for the preservation of its
heritage, its culture, its history and it is, without a doubt, the
trademark of a great nation.