Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries Tagged as 'Chelsea'

Docklands Museum

August 23rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

After a bit of trouble navigating the DLR (apparently the train we got on didn’t happen to stop at West India Quay, despite what it said on the map), all thirteen of us arrived at the Docklands Museum after a bit of a hike between the DLR stop we got off at and the DLR stop we were supposed to arrive at. I must admit we were all rather tired and “museumed out” after our walking tour and our trip to the London Museum earlier, but we quickly realized that the Docklands Museum had a lot to offer.

The London Sugar Slavery Gallery exhibit stuck with me the most. I tend to automatically think of slavery as an American phenomenon, something tied in with American plantations and Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, but it was interesting to see the more urban lives of the British African slaves, as well as the fact that many slaves (and later, indentured servants from China and India) were sent to the British-owned sugar plantations in the West Indies. Strolling through the exhibit, I thought it was well done, with equal attention paid to the lives and conditions of the slaves, the Abolishionist movement, and the influence slaves’ work today.

However, upon coming to the end of the exhibit, I was surprised to discover that many visitors to the museum did not find the exhibit satisfactory and were so displeased that they felt the need to leave notes, which the museum had collected into a binder. Several commenters thought the exhibit was a waste of space, since the slave trade and its inhumanity were not the commenters’ faults and they claimed they didn’t need to apologize for it. Others thought the slaves’ plight wasn’t documented graphically enough and that the exhibit glossed over the conditions they lived in and the treatment they faced. Still others were disappointed that the museum had chosen to devote so much space to the slave trade and not as much to British innovators and historical figures. After reading through many of the comments, several of us sat around discussing the complaints and why we found the commenters’ arguments to be inadequate.

Firstly, many of us felt that the fact that the sheer amount of artifacts, quotes, artwork, and lasting influence on today’s British culture merited the inclusion of the exhibit into the Docklands Museum, and that the exhibit clearly and diplomatically relayed all of these things. The exhibit did not ask Britons to apologize for the acts of their forefathers, nor did it seem to try to make a visitor fee guilty for the actions of the past. Secondly, there is a fine line between what is appropriate to be displayed and what is not in a museum which is obviously family-oriented. Given the fact that the museum has younger visitors, as well as visitors who might not want to be confronted with more graphic images and explanations of the slaves’ lives, I would say that they did an accurate, tasteful job of describing their conditions and treatments. Thirdly, I don’t believe that the Docklands Museum claims to represent every aspect of London and its history: it’s simply impossible to fit so much information into one building, and not all of what can be exhibited can fit in one museum, either. There are many other museums in the city which undoubtedly have exhibits on the more well-known London historical figures and innovators, and though some commenters disagreed, we found the slavery exhibit to be refreshing and somewhat unexpected, since we are accustomed to only hearing about the American side of the slave trade and the consequences there.

I suppose there is ignorance everywhere.

Tags: Chelsea · Museums

I Guess it was a Holiday or Something…

August 22nd, 2009 · 1 Comment

We left the Arran House hotel at 8:30 AM to catch the Northern line on Goodge Street up towards the Central line. We eventually arrived at Shepherd’s Bush Station, and walked a few blocks to the market. Even though the market was technically open, many of the

stalls were closed and the walking path was deserted.

Hiding our frustrations we chose to explore the surrounding community. As we walked further on the main road, we observed the privately owned shops (most of which were closed), as well as the local pedestrians on the move. Despite the “not so upper class feel” of the main street, the residential side streets appeared cozy and well cared for. We were unable to conclude how the neighborhood would fit in the British class system.

Circling back to the market, we decided to take our first walk through, despite its emptiness. The market appeared to cater to those who needed essential items including produce, meat, clothing: Middle Eastern apparel and accessories, and household items. Half way through we met a nice policeman who inquired about our visit to the market. He told us the market would get busy around eleven after the local shopping mall opened.



We explored the parallel main street which was also lined with shops. As we walked by we realized the majority of stores catered to the Middle Eastern Community. There were many different textile stores (with Arabic store signs) in addition to a news stand full of Arabic newspapers.



After killing time in a local park (and patsy sitting on bird poop) we returned to the market at eleven to find it still. Regardless of its permanent state of death we decided to weave through the isles again. This time we noticed more established shops behind the vendors, including BEDAZZLED sneakers!


After numerous passes through, we agreed that the market would not pick up and so we left. Although this market did not live up to our expectations, each of us became more interested in exploring the other markets of London.

Happy Ramadan.

Tags: Chelsea · Flow · Markets · Patsy · Uncategorized


August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

After a short tour of Tottenham Court Road, Paul and Chelsea set off for Barbican from Goodge Street station. Barbican and Goodge Street aren’t located terribly far away from each other, but because of the way the Underground system is laid out, we had to go all the way down to Embankment to meet the Circle Line in order to take it to Barbican, and the Tube journey alone probably took twenty minutes or so in itself.

The Barbican station surprisingly was outdoors, unlike most other stations we had seen. It lets out onto a fairly busy street, and we headed straight across it for Beech Street (which is actually a sort of tunnel), not knowing we were heading away from the Central Markets and the Museum of London. We ended up in a mostly residential area full of “estate houses,” which we thought meant low-income housing, but many of the buildings looked decent and well kept-up for the most part, making us question if that’s really what “estate houses” meant. We came across a small park and an elementary school, as well as an old building marked as a “free library,” which turned out to actually be offices for UBS and not a library at all. This building was a tall red-brick building with elaborate arches and ledges, which was in stark contrast to the concrete block apartment building right across the street. In addition, we found a Welsh church, but couldn’t glean much information besides the fact that it had been established in 1774 due to the fact that the signs were written in Welsh. The majority of the people we saw walking around were white and middle class in appearance, even though it was probably a more lower-income area. However, the area seemed very quiet and there were very few people on the street.

Walking only a block away from the residential area, we came to the Square Mile City and were dwarfed by the massive high-income office buildings. This area was in direct contrast to the estate houses simply on the other side of the street. The farther on we walked,  there were more and more modern glass and steel buildings, as well as men in suits and boutique shops. Deciding to head back, we found Moorgate Tube station and took a different route back home, taking the District Line and ending up at Tottenham Court Road and a short walk to the hotel.

We’re having technical difficulties getting the pictures up, but we hope to have that worked out soon.

Tags: Chelsea · Paul