Steampunk inspiration and resources

Posts tagged “Shipping

Hay’s Gallery and “The Navigators”

IMG_1734The Tower Bridge is worth visiting all on its own, but when I spent a day exploring the area I also found some other great things to tickle your Steampunk fancy. I could see on the map that St. Katherine’s Marina was nearby, and on my way I found a hidden treasure tucked away inside a Hay’s Gallery. In it’s heyday in the 19th century, the then-named Hay’s Wharf received 80% of the tea shipments bound for the Pool of London. Today the amazing glass ceiling provides shelter to restaurants, homes and shops in Victorian-era buildings, as well as an amazing sculpture called “The Navigators.”

The combination fountain and sculpture by David Kemp was installed in 1987 and has a decidedly Steampunk feel. The 60-foot homage to the shipping history of the area is made of bronze which has been pleasantly oxidizing. Some parts of the piece have been selectively polished, and the pool has been painted blue which detracts somewhat from the artist’s original intention to combine “Gothic fantasy, sea monsters, man & machine in this Kinetic Sculpture”, but it is still a lovely piece installed in a historic setting that reflects the Steampunk aesthetic from around the time the term was coined. (http://www.davidkemp.uk.com/the-navigatorslondon-bridge/)


The Cutty Sark and the English Tea Trade

The Cutty Sark MuseumIt is common knowledge that the Brits love their tea, but it is less common knowledge how this love affair all began. If you are looking for a fun way to explore that history, you should try visiting the good ship Cutty Sark near the waterfront in Greenwich.

The ship itself wasn’t built until 1869, but tea first came to the UK two centuries earlier. Here is a timeline from the Cutty Sark’s exhibits.

Timeline of Tea

IMG_0640In its heyday, The Cutty Sark was one of the most impressive vessels on the sea, and especially well-suited for transporting tea. The copper hull was not only beautiful, but was especially good at keeping sea water out of the cargo hold. It also had an amazing carrying capacity and was one of the fastest ships on the water.

In fact, it engaged in a historic race in 1872 against another transport called The Thermopylae. Both ships left Shanghai at the same time, and the Cutty Sark took an early lead. Unfortunately, she lost her rudder and had to stop for repairs. The Thermopylae ended up making it to England a full week before The Cutty Sark. This was the only time that both ships left from the same port at the same time, but the Cutty Sark later set a record for reaching Sydney in just 73 days.

I loved visiting the exhibits on the inside, especially the first floor where the interior and the displays were made out of tea crates. There is another gallery the next floor up that has interactive features and videos to help you get into the mindset of a sailor on the ship over its long history. I was also lucky enough to have the perfect weather to explore the deck, which has been restored to its former and shiny glory.