Saturday, 7 July 2012

Barbican Underground Station for Barbican Centre and Museum of London

Getting to the Barbican Centre has been described as a bit tricky, but I have now done this twice on my own.  Barbican Underground is served by more than one line and on arrival there are several flights of stairs to the ticket hall and gates.  On my first trip, on July 3rd, I was approached by Rohan from the station who kindly took me across two crossings and described an onward journey which worked first time.

Rohan first notified the controller that he was taking me out of the station.  We then crossed a “tactile” crossing, rippled texture and light controlled with rotating signal below the button.  We crossed this directly outside the station and turned right and crossed again.  From then on I followed Rohan’s instructions and turned left and proceeded into what seemed a tunnel/underpass with side access for car parks, dumpsters and deliveries.  There is a panelled metal cladding in different colour and ventilation vents which can be whacked with a cane, for auditory feedback.  The end of the tunnel is marked by lighting changes and accompanied by the sound of being in the open air again.   At the next crossing, turn right.  At this point you should be on the approach to the Barbican Centre in Silk Street- this is straight ahead and about 80 metres, I think.   This point has an interesting feature on the corner of Beech Street/Silk Street.  It seemed to me to resemble a Pictish broch such as one finds in Scotland (Dun Carloway in Lewis) For my purposes, it is a broch! 

This orientation to the Barbican seems to be safe and though going through a tunnel it has an advantage of having virtually clutter free pavement (sidewalk)

Once in the Barbican Centre (entrance Silk Street access point), there are several glass doors and corridors and when I went in there was a car in the way. Lucy approached me and asked if I needed help. I asked what the car was doing there and was told it was 007 James Bond’s Aston Martin!  (The next day Fiona took my picture posing with Sir Sean ‘himself’.)

Prof Whitestick meets James Bond with Aston Martin
Barbican Centre, London
4 July 2012

Lucy also described the doors, some of which open outwards automatically. I wanted to go to the Barbican Gallery and was given instructions to go to the elevators beside the exit to the waterfront.  I found this and asked other passengers for floor 3.  I found the gallery and talked with Priya.  Lucy’s directions and the function of the building had delivered me, again first time.   I asked Priya to thank both Lucy and the station staff at the Barbican for both approaching me and asking if I needed any assistance. 

Priya told me about the live guiding system they have and was pleased that I had booked a curator guide for the next day.  However, they can also cope with a visually impaired person turning up, out of the blue.  Priya told me more about the Bond show which was about to open ( as well as showing me two of the cafes and the orientation of the levels. She also suggested that I ought to try out the Museum of London and gave me details of following a yellow bricked road walk which goes part of the way.

Prof Whitestick with James Bond
Barbican Centre, London
4th July 2012

I explored the fountains and waterfront in the Barbican Centre but take care and pay attention to the cane’s feedback.  Next, I followed the yellow line after a flight of steps and though it ran out, it brought me, with some help from others, to the Museum of London.

I had not been here before and they were very geared up for new faces and whitesticks.  All the staff wear pink/cerise/fuchsia coloured shirts/blouses and operate a relay system where you are passed from guide to guide. They are all linked to radio control with mike and earpiece and when I was put into a lift it was explained that someone else would be there (and they were) on the next floor. 

I met Lorraine who said they ran tours at 3pm and 4pm explaining the layout of the museum from prehistory to the present.  I wanted to jump start with the 1300s and talked with different guides about medieval London and the Black Death, Tudor times and the Great Fire of London.  In a showcase was a sword given to Lord Nelson and I was chatting to Edwin who was describing it when I went into renaissance sword/neutron diffraction mode.  It turned out that Edwin had completed a MA at UCL and was hoping to do a PhD in archaeo-metallurgy.  He knew all the Wallace Collection staff I had met at the study day ( ). 

I was then taken by Nicola around the 20th Century section, finishing with the original elevators of the Selfridges shop in Oxford Street, which had been relocated and installed in the museum.  We also took a look around the Lord Mayor’s coach and horses. 

A lot to see and do.  When finished, I was taken across a road and given instructions on how to find Barbican Underground.  Approaching the station and remembering there was only one entrance, I was offered help from Michael who was going in my direction and we got on the right train, i.e. Metropolitan line train.