Lewisham Shopping Centre’s pop-up maritime museum

Note it’s CLOSED on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

This was a delightful thing to discover as I was leaving Lewisham Shopping Centre yesterday. Some genius (it turns out to be @museumsailor and colleagues) at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has come up with the brilliant idea to have a pop-up maritime museum in a vacant shop lot among the regular high street shops. I liked it a lot. It’s near what I think of as the main entrance to the Centre, near the Clock Tower (if you’re looking at the entrance TK Maxx is on the left hand side), apparently it’s been there since February.

There was a glass cabinet with decorated (shark’s teeth, feathers) Tahitian neckwear used to show off one’s higher status, and some stiff fabric made of woven grasses for the less exalted community-members. Also a Polynesian navigational aid with shells representing islands, and sticks representing the layout, directions and prevailing winds etc. Having no sense of direction I’d need a “You are here” shell or bead that would follow me around as I travelled among the Polynesian islands.

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Glass cabinet (picture above) with some wax stuff that I didn’t investigate (on upper shelf) and (on lower shelf) there’s the fancy neck decoration roughly in the middle of the shelf (the thing with the rows of black feathers with white shark teeth) and on the right (with the white parcel label on top) there’s a woven fabric. I think most of the items on display were modern recreations rather than originals as we were encouraged to handle them.

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Close-up (above) of a recreation of a Polynesian nav-aid which sailors would use to navigate the seas around their islands. I’m trying to imagine the smartphone version.

There was also a sextant, I didn’t get a chance to play with it, maybe next time. I don’t know how it works beyond you point it at stuff and use a book of astronomical stuff to work out where you are, in relation to the angle you’re at to various planets or stars. When I went on a cruise a couple of years ago I wanted to take one with me but thought better of it when I saw the book of tables I’d have to understand before I set off.

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Here’s a handy video (below) showing how to use a home-made one. I’ve watched it so now I do know how a sextant works!

I felt the wonderful Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich and Woolwich needed more science talks about navigation (and lots of other topics), and I’d probably enjoy an evening class in that.

Shortly before the festival I wrote this post (on my main blog) about what I might put in an Imaginary Maritime Science Festival that might take place at the same time as the next Tall Ships festival.

The pop-up museum is open until 9 July 2017 and runs from Thur-Sun (Thur-Sat: 10-5, Sun: 11-4pm).


They’re looking for volunteers to help, and are having a recruitment session on 24 May (Wednesday) at 11am. Contact lyates@rmg.co.uk for more info.

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There’s something interesting going on at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, to do with the use of plants. Checking the QH website, or searching the title (‘Unearthing season at Queen’s House’) on Google didn’t bring up anything though. Since found it, but too late.

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Below are messages created from lollipop sticks, I’m not sure what the round things with feathers are.

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Visitors were also invited to suggest what explorers to Lewisham would take back with them. Lewisham has a very big fruit and veg market… this suggestion featured a few times.

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Lewisham’s Bus Stop A is out of action until November

Note that the 380 bus will be on diversion from 7 September until after the OnBlackheath event has finished – it won’t go through Hare and Billet road.

A tantalus is a wooden cabinet that displays your alcoholic beverages but is locked in such a cunning way that without the key your servants and children can’t quaff any, according to the Wikipedia article. Something similar is going on at Bus Stop A in Lewisham which is now veiled behind a ‘site entrance’ (see pic below) and is inaccessible. This is thanks to the interminable crossrail roadworks resulting in inconsistent travel routes, from week to week, and reminds me of the stairs at Hogwarts which move around when they feel like it.

Even with a wire cutter Bus Stop A will not bring me any buses.

There is no visible information here to tell me where I can get the bus I want. The closest bus stops offer me buses that are going in the wrong direction, and there’s no information there either. I was a bit miffed.

  1. I know Lewisham well and know where the Blackheath-bound 380 buses stop. Clocktower (bus stop P), then Bus Stop A (when it’s in use) then up Lewisham Hill which is hail-and-ride.
  2. I’m fit enough to walk to either of those two stops
  3. I feel pretty safe in Lewisham though I feel a lot safer at a bus stop surrounded by taxis and rail passengers than I do exposed in the middle of the shopping centre surrounded by closed shops and random strangers. There’s hardly anyone on Lewisham Hill at night so I’d pick that one before the ‘city centre’.

I’m not sure what you’d do if you don’t know the area very well or aren’t very mobile – get a taxi I suppose if you can afford it. It’s pretty poor of TfL not to have a map or some info – at the bus stop I mean, who cares if there’s information on a website – on the options available.

Paul (@bitoclass) is my go-to-guy on Lewisham’s changing transport infrastructure and he tells me that Bus Stop A is now out of action until November.

My solution was to speak with the driver of the 380 bus that terminated at Lewisham station (just a few feet back along the route I’d taken from Platform 1 at the railway station). He very kindly let me get on and take the bus around to the standing point (behind the shopping centre) – we had a very nice chat about our favourite bus routes and the changes in Lewisham and how confusing it all seemed – before he began his new journey which included dropping me off in Blackheath.