Science Museum | London (Community-in-Residence)
Many thanks to Jayne Fair for kindly sharing her interesting and poignant thoughts, photographs and commentary about her Science Museum experience:
When thinking about how I would approach the opportunity offered by the visit to London I decided to try to find objects that would have a personal relevance to myself, my family or my home town. I did not realise at the time just how personal some of the items I had the privilege to see would have to me and my family.
During the morning we were able to see a collection of medical related items that had been collected and donated to the museum. I am the mother of 3 sons and was fascinated by a small collection of birthing chairs.
These chairs made of Oak, Pine and Elm amongst other woods was fascinating examples of how child birth has been treated throughout time. Some of them were rustic, almost homemade and an example of the changing nature of childbirth from a natural to a medical procedure. I am not suggesting we revert to using these chairs but in many ways, with the rise in natural childbirth, we are moving more towards a mother and midwife lead birth.
During the afternoon we moved on to see other collections. One collection I was particularly interested to see was the telecommunications collection. With items from the very beginning of mass communications the collection spanned over 100 years of technology. My personal interest in this area lay in the fact that my mother and father first met when she was a telephonist and he an engineer both working for what was then the National Post Office, later BT.
This is a section of the cable laid under the Atlantic Ocean connecting the UK with the Americas. This cable may have taken messages about the progress of the American Civil war, the sinking of the Titanic, the declaration of WWI and the beginning of the Wall Street Crash. It is impossible to imagine the good news and tragic tidings this cable carried and how families may have been reunited or divided by information carried on this cable.
As mentioned earlier my father was a telephone engineer. Part of his role was called Trunk Test and he would often be called upon to test equipment before it was used by the general public, this included telephones. Perhaps it was because he was the father of 4 accident prone children but he would often bring home new phones to try out before they went on sale. The phone I liked the best was the original Trim Phone (as in photo 1) however ours was bright orange and the envy of many of my school friends.
My mother was a telephonist and I saw many examples of the type of equipment she used. Whist looking at the display I phoned her to let her know what I had seen. It was during this conversation that it became obvious that she was unwell but I am pleased to say that my last conversation with her was about the fascinating things I was looking at and what she remembered about them.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have taken part in this project, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be involved.