This is the blog of Ant Miller, senior research manager and dilettante geek at large at the BBC.
I wail moan and cuss about the challenges and fun to be found here.
These are my personal opinions, and not those of my employer. Or anyone else here for that matter.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Where Steam Punk was Born

Friday saw me in a facinating meeting with an EU technology research programme representative, and people from some of the most active research groups in the UK- that was great, but it's a topic for another day. Today's post is about the venue- the Institute of Mechanical Engineers- and their decorative stuff!

The I Mech E as it is usually called sits at the bottom southwest corner of St James Park, at 1, Birdcage Walk. A nice spot, tucked in behind the Foriegn and Commonwealth Office, very desirable. And our meeting was in the Whittle Room. The Frank Whittle room, Frank Whittle inventor of the jet engine and total engineering hero, and this room was absolutely stuffed with Whittle memorabilia- it was fantastic (and ever so slightly distracting when the gentleman from Brussels was explaining the finer points of the managment of conflicts of interest in proposal assesment schemes).

So that was completely brilliant, and then, on the way out, I notice that the hallway was lined (literally lined floor to cieling) with working model tractions engines. Working in as much as they could work if you fuelled them up etc- they were sitting in glass cases that day. All well and good you say, but this was to traction engines what the Natural History Museum is to bugs- this was the most incredible collection of the freaky, funky and downright weird traction engines that ever were. This then, in the heart of London, is clearly the true home of the Steam Punk ethic- the sanctum sanctorum of engineering mastery, the motherload of victorian gentle-person design and makery, and they know it!

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