This is a science and natural history museum with a slant towards the local. The star of the show is probably the 'Turbinia'. Charles Algernon Parsons invented the steam turbine in 1884, and, having foreseen its potential to power ships, he set up the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company with five associates in 1893. To develop this he had the experimental vessel Turbinia built in a light design of steel by the firm of Brown and Hood, based at Wallsend on Tyne. The Admiralty was kept informed of developments, and Turbinia was launched on 2 August 1894. Despite the success of the turbine engine, initial trials with one propeller were disappointing. After discovering the problem of cavitation and constructing the first cavitation tunnel, Parsons' research led to him fitting three axial-flow turbines to three shafts, each shaft in turn driving three propellers, giving a total of nine propellers. In trials this achieved a top speed of over 34 knots (63 km/h), so that "the passengers aboard would be convinced beyond all doubt Turbinia was Charles Parsons' winning North Sea greyhound". The turbines were directly driven, as geared turbines were not introduced until 1910. Even after the introduction of geared turbines, efficiency of even the largest axial steam turbines was still below 12 percent. Turbinia was even less efficient, with its direct drive turbine moving with a tip speed of just 30 meters per second. Despite this, it was a dramatic improvement over predecessors. Parsons' ship turned up unannounced at the Navy Review for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee at Spithead, on 26 June 1897, in front of the Prince of Wales, Lords of the Admiralty and foreign dignitaries. As an audacious publicity stunt, Turbinia, which was much faster than any ship at the time, raced between the two lines of navy ships and steamed up and down in front of the crowd and princes, while easily evading a Navy picket boat that tried to pursue her, almost swamping it with her wake.
It also features examples of Joseph Swan's early lightbulbs. Swan first demonstrated the light bulb at a lecture in Newcastle upon Tyne on 18 December 1878, but he did not receive a patent until 27 November 1880 (patent No. 4933) after improvement to the original lamp. His house (in Gateshead, England) was the first in the world to be lit by lightbulb, and the world's first electric-light illumination in a public building was for a lecture Swan gave in 1880. In 1881, the Savoy Theatre in the City of Westminster, London, was lit by Swan incandescent lightbulbs, the first theatre and the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electricity. In America, Edison had been working on copies of the original light bulb patented by Swan, trying to make them more efficient. Though Swan had beaten him to this goal, Edison obtained patents in America for a fairly direct copy of the Swan light, and started an advertising campaign that claimed that he was the real inventor. Swan, who was less interested in making money from the invention, agreed that Edison could sell the lights in America while he retained the rights in the United Kingdom.
It houses the regimental museum for the 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars and the Northumberland Hussars, exploring the human side of 200 years of life in the army. It is a "hands-on" museum designed to interest both children and adults. There are always a host of temporary exhibitions on. The museum has three public lifts and stairs providing access to all floors. All lifts have voice announcers and Braille indicators. The museum is spread across lower ground, ground, first and second floors with access to the fourth floor when events are taking place in the Great Hall. The cafe is situated on the second floor. All floors have level access with ramped access from lower ground to ground in the Turbinia Atrium. Stairs have raised tactile indicators on the handrails. Part of Newcastle Story has a raised track floor to guide you around. Large static visual and touch orientation maps are available on each floor of the museum to help you find your way around. Pre-visit information packs are available to borrow for free for blind and partially sighted people to plan a visit. Please contact the museum to arrange this. The pack consists of: Large print visitor guide, Braille visitor guide, Large print detailed guide of the museum and its facilities, Audio CD comprising of a detailed guide of the museum and its facilities, Large print floor plan, Braille and tactile (touch) floor plan. Information regarding dogs (which are welcome). Members of the curatorial team, customer services and learning team can lead tours of the museum, but these must be booked in advance of your visit. Tours tend to last between 45 minutes and an hour.
Location : Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA
Transport: Newcastle Central Station (National Rail, Metro) 5 minutes. Bus routes 1, 30 and 31 stop outside.
Opening Times: Daily 10:00 to 16:00 (opens at 11:00 on Saturdays)
Tel: 0191 232 6789