An opportunity to partner with engineering genius

Kirkaldy’s Testing & Experimenting Works on Southwark Street, London, is the Victorian institution that helped build the world we know today. Ever since he had it shipped to London from the factory in Leeds, David Kirkaldy’s colossal hydraulic Universal Testing Machine has survived intact and in working order here in London, housed in the engineering workshop he designed around it. Survived, that is, until now. Southwark Street lies at the heart of an area that is regenerating fast, making the future of this atmospheric Grade II building – and Kirkaldy’s listed machine inside it – precarious.

Get the low down on what's going up

2014 has brought several new projects to the Logistics Group meeting table – while a couple more have recently completed. Come for a walk around the neighbourhood and get the low down on what’s going up.

Kirkaldy Testing Works - good day at the office

A good day at Kirkaldy Testing Works: the Working Group was really pleased to welcome some special visitors to see the machine in action - and to enjoy some rather delicious tarts from The Table. It's all happening on Southwark Street! Special thanks to Dr Dan Glaser and Tim Henbrey of the new Science Gallery at King's College and to Dan Cruickshank, for coming along and helping put a piece of 19th century wrought iron through its paces.
If you would like to get involved in helping secure the legacy of Kirkaldy's groundbreaking (and everything-else breaking given half a chance) work, please contact me at

Helping the good become better – we talk to Peter Williams, CEO of Better Bankside, about the appeal of helping to shape the future of Bankside

Regular readers of dbrief Quarterly - written by Placeworks for Bankside and London Bridge Logistics Group - will know we always find someone to talk to who has an interesting view on what's happening.

This is a big year for Better Bankside. The Business Improvement District is going to its third ballot in November and CEO Peter Williams hopes an even stronger endorsement of the BID’s work will let Better Bankside continue its aim to make this the best neighbourhood in the world.
So how did this ardent Swansea City fan become a driving force in Bankside?
Peter first got to know SE1 in the late 1990s. Directing a partnership of public authorities transforming the area around Lambeth Walk, he recognised that what was happening there was happening across London.
"With the commercial heart of the street market gone, the residential area had also lost its allure," he explains. “I saw for myself the vibrancy and richness that a mixed residential and commercial community can create. And it made me think more about how a Business Improvement District could help achieve that.”
In 2000 he came for an interview in the Borough Market boardroom with the group exploring the idea of a BID for Bankside.

Applying to be volunteer PM at Kirkaldy Testing Museum? Come and visit on Sunday 2 March

Come along on Sunday 2 March for the monthly opening and see the machine in action!
Talk to the curator and find out how you can join us in helping secure the future of this remarkable place.

Change the future for the Victorian engineering workshop that changed the world!

Are you mad for small museums, managing projects and making things happen? The Kirkaldy Testing Museum – a hotbed of Victorian engineering innovation on Southwark Street – is looking for a volunteer project manager to help take the revitalization of this important small museum to the next level.
“Facts not Opinions” it proclaims above the door at 99 Southwark Street. David Kirkaldy was one of Britain's most innovative engineers and chose this as the home for his pioneering machine testing the breaking strength of metals. His work helped solve some of the major structural engineering problems of his day on bridges from the Mississippi to Hammersmith. Remarkably the machine is still in full working order, thanks to a small group of dedicated volunteers who open the museum once a month, and recently the testing machine has been brought to new audiences through Open House and arts projects such as Bankside’s Merge festival.
Find out more about the museum at:

The inside track – visit some of London Bridge and Bankside's newest projects

2014 has brought several new projects to the Banskide and London BridgeLogistics Group meeting table – while a couple more projects have recently completed. Come for a walk around the neighbourhood and get the lowdown on what’s going up.
Let’s start at Guy’s Hospital, where one of the newest projects, the innovative Cancer Centre is planned to open in 2016. Patients and the local community have helped design every aspect of the 14-storey building, which will streamline the way care is delivered through ‘villages’ covering the main stages of cancer treatment. Approximately 4m below the surface lies one of the area’s oldest structures, a timber Roman boat, officially declared a scheduled monument in 1960s and partly excavated in 2010. The decision was taken not to lift the boat and as part of Laing O’Rourke’s site works piles will support a concrete slab that spans the boat, allowing monitoring and preservation through water filtration. Museum of London Archaeology unearthed a few more ‘recent’ treasures too, including a Bellarmine Jug apparently used to dispel witchcraft and a pub token, from circa 16th Century.
More information can be found at

A date for your diary (I'll tell you just as soon as I can)

Well here's a dilemma. The first story after the decision to split writing and painting and I'm not sure which category it comes under. Singing. Not doing another website (however Twitter is now available though @urbanism101, but I'm more of a sonnet than a haiku girl and fitting all that unrelenting enthusiasm into 140 characters isn't always what I feel like doing).
As the lady in the flat upstairs has known for a couple of weeks, the singing in question is Bach's St John Passion - or "rocketfuel for writing" as it was recently described on a bonsai social media site. The reason I can't give you a date yet is that the concert's at Cadogan Hall (sorry, that's London SW3 to everyone who doesn't shop in the Belgravia branch of Waitrose) and as our choir is so nombreuses we have to take it in turn. So either the 6th or the 7th April, I haven't heard yet. It's a rollicking good sing though, I hope the lady upstairs will agree.
More information at

Ahem* Website announcement from Placeworks HQ

Already fed up with those "New Year, New You!" A-boards flying around in the gale force winds outside every chain cafe of the office-lunch persuasion? (Note to restaurants located at the ground floor of tall buildings - it's hard enough walking around the corner of these places in regular wind speeds, at the moment you are only really making business for A&E and car repair workshops.) Well, here'a another. New year, new website!
This is the year that Placeworks finally stops pretending that its split personality can be happily embraced within one website and gets two separate ones. will continue to be the home for writing, consultancy and urbanism news, and will be the new home for my painting and drawing. There will also be enhanced features such as opportunities to sign up for news and to comment on stories. I know you're dying to.
And hopefully now that's been made public the hugely talented, busy but occasionally distracted web designer will get on with it. (So grateful)

Do you shop in dark stores?

Sounds like a trend for the future doesn't it? Reduce energy bills by keeping the lights low? (And another opportunity for Waitrose Quick Check customers to feel smug as they navigate their way around by the glow of their hand-held scanners.) In fact dark stores are here already and if you are one of the growing number of people to have stocked up on your Heston* products online over Christmas then chances are you're already a dark store shopper (*other premium brands are available).