Sunday, 5 June 2016

Redbridge Central Library and Museum

It being half-term Friday, we were on grandparent duty.  In fact, the Boy had spent the night with us, and so we didn't set off very early, since Granda, who had been going to get up and go to Lidl to buy pains au chocolat for breakfast, got side-tracked by the book of trees that the Boy was looking at, and I was showered and dressed long before either of them were ready to do so.

But we set off eventually, catching the Northern Line to Moorgate, and then the Metropolitan/Hammersmith and City/Circle Line (I think it was a Hammersmith and City train) to Liverpool Street, and then a TfL Rail train to Ilford.  This was great fun, as it was "racing" the longest freight train you ever did see - don't know where that would have been going, but until just before we got to Ilford, it was on the fast lines and we would overtake it between stations, and then it would catch up when we were in the station, and so on....  But it turned off just before we got to Ilford.

When we got out of the station, we weren't too sure where we were, and took some time to orient ourselves; however, eventually we realised that the railway line was going underneath the road, rather than alongside it, so we got ourselves straightened out, and soon found the Central Library and Museum which we had come to see.

The main event was an exhibition - which ended today - of the various Ice Age mammal skeletons and fossils that had been found in the area.  This was not, alas, as interesting as it had been touted, and was, in fact, very small - mostly a rather silly film reconstruction of a lecture given in Victorian times about amateur excavations in the area, and then a few bones.  I rather felt "Is that it?" when I had seen it.   But we then went up another flight of stairs to the main museum, and that was rather more interesting, being set out as a "trip back in time" in the area.  Mostly very good, but an egregious "it's" when they meant "its" set our teeth on edge.  The Boy took more interest in this, and I think he and his Granda went round twice - he had a trail of things to find.  After a bit, though, we decided we had seen it all, and it was time for lunch.  They could always go back up to search for the rest of the things to find on the trail when we had eaten. 

So we descended to the café on the ground floor of the library, which was very good despite purporting to sell "Panini's" (honestly, wouldn't you think a public library would know better?).  The Boy and I both had quiche followed by an ice-cream sundae ("But I can't have that," said the Boy, "It's only Friday!"  I had to explain what a Sundae was and why it was called it, and that it was perfectly all right to have it on any day), and The Swan Whisperer (aka Granda) had a jacket potato with something - chicken and sweetcorn, I think - and a chocolate brownie.  Remarkably good value for money.

Then they went back upstairs to finish the trail, but couldn't find any bison no matter how hard they looked (The Boy wanted to call them "bisson", and I don't know why they aren't, now I come to think of it).  I think the exhibition was being run down as it was the last full day.

And then back to his on the 123 bus - a very quick and easy journey, only about 20 minutes - to find one of the cats had been extremely sick on the floor, but luckily the Swan Whisperer coped! 

I hope the Boy enjoyed it; it's not always easy to know whether he enjoys things or not.....


  1. Dear Annabel,

    I'm pleased you and your grandson enjoyed your visit to Redbridge Museum and hope you visit again. The 'Ice Age Ilford' exhibition proved to very popular with local families and schools as well as many other visitors throughout its run. As you mention, the family trail was a good way to explore the display.

    The temporary exhibition space is unfortunately not as large as we would like and it was a challenge to make such a complex subject as the Ice Age intelligible to a broad audience in such a compact display. I'm sorry you didn't like the light-hearted filmed depiction of the Victorian lecture about the subject. The original lecture (notes of which were displayed) was written in a humorous style and so it seemed appropriate to try and bring the spirit of this to life but we all have different senses of humour! I'm not sure I would agree, however, that the film (showing on one screen) was the central part of the exhibition - this was instead the display of original fossils, information about the Ice Age, where the fossils were found, why they were found as part of brick-making in the 19th century and what the local area was like at the time.

    Every summer, the Museum creates an interactive exhibition for children and families. This year, 'Ship Ahoy!' explores local history through ships, rivers and seas. It runs until 3 September and I hope you have a chance to visit, I'm sure your grandson would enjoy it enormously.

    Thank you once again for your comments about Redbridge Museum.

    Kind regards
    Gerard Greene
    Manager, Redbridge Museum
    Central Library, Clements Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 1EA

    1. Thank you for taking the trouble to reply. I will see whether my grandson and his brother fancy a visit to the "Ship Ahoy" exhibition.