The Friends were out and about in November. As activities wind down a little for December, we thought we should update you!
Rochester Airport Visit
On Sunday 2nd November we braved the rain and ventured to the perimeter of the town to visit Rochester Airport. None of our intrepid team had visited previously – Chris Burrows admitted excitedly it was the first time he had seen a helicopter take off. We met the enthusiastic volunteers of Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) Limited and had a great time finding out about their current preoccupations – in one instance rebuilding with material rescued from a ploughed field - squashed by a tractor. The aim of MAPS is to preserve important, often rare and sometimes unique aircraft and the principal customer is the RAF Museum – a Mk1 Spitfire, the oldest in the world, is now on public display at Hendon. I discovered that the item which resembled a massive Meccano frame was in fact a stripped back Shorts seaplane/floatplane which it is planned will, eventually, resemble its original form. We then toured the hangers, we saw planes belonging to rock stars, and we marvelled at the ambitions and ingenuity of these talented people. There was even a well-stocked café to restore ourselves. This is another event we plan to repeat! A huge thank you to MAPS for having us!
Rochester Cathedral Crypt Excavation Visit
On Tuesday 11 November the twelve Friends who were first off the mark were privileged to visit Rochester Cathedral Crypt. We had to split the group for reasons of safety, so six of us stayed behind to view items from the Library which had been laid out for our inspection in the Lady Chapel. I loved the medieval book, the major part of which had been tunnelled by a bookworm – such dedication. Eventually we all had an opportunity to don a high-visibility jacket and a hard hat and gingerly venture down the steps where it is planned the new lift for disabled access will probably go. I say probably because the discovery of a large section of Norman wall, hidden from view for centuries beneath the Kent Steps, makes this a more contentious procedure than was originally anticipated! I had to ask patient archaeologist Graham Keevill to explain the detail to me more than once, but I think I can now identify tufa stone with reasonable accuracy.
To those of you who joined the Friends too late to be of our number, I understand that there are to be Archaeology open days at the Cathedral in due course and I will let you know when I have more details.
Behind-the-Scenes at The Guildhall Museum
On Saturday 22nd November another trip behind the scenes at the Guildhall Museum, was enjoyed, this time with Simon Lace. Several people overlooked to book – as the group grows larger this really is essential. It is proving a very popular element of our programme and we had not anticipated so many return visitors emerging from the dusty cellars beneath the buildings. I will certainly be returning – I have not explored much further than the doorway, there is so much hidden away down there
By the way, a Special Opening at the Brook Pumping Station can be arranged if there is sufficient interest – just e-mail me, or telephone with your details and availability. We can explore the exhibits, see the pumps running and perhaps the Columbia Printing Press will be operating. Remember that the Pumping Station is also open on the first Saturday in the month- from 11.00 a.m. until 3.00 p.m. – until the end of May.