Letter written by Brunel to his grand-daughter Sophia Hawes in 1842

2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the opening in 1869 of the East London railway line, which now forms part of the London Overground network. The initial stretch of track ran between Wapping and New Cross, and made use of the Thames Tunnel, which had been completed over a quarter of a century earlier, in 1843, with the help of pioneering technology invented by Marc Isambard Brunel.


Read the incredible facts and figures about Cutty Sark to understand why she was such a feat of Victorian engineering.


English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) developed groundbreaking theories on evolution following a five-year expedition on board HMS Beagle, 1831–36.

HMS Terrible played a decisive role in two imperial wars and ended her days being broken up and parts of her sold as souvenirs.

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Sir John Franklin made three attempts to find the North-West Passage. His final voyage in 1845 in HMS Erebus and HMS Terror ended in tragedy for him and all his men, becoming the worst disaster in the history of British polar exploration. 

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Our art collection holds a major work by artist J.M.W. Turner: The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 (1822-24). 


The enduring influence of nautical styles in fashion have been long celebrated in British culture. Find out more about its origins and the role of Queen Victoria.

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The quintant, once owned by King Edward VII,  has a silver frame and an ivory handle.

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Nannie the witch is Cutty Sark's figurehead. 

Captain Richard Woodget engaged as Master of Cutty Sark on 30 March 1885, aged 39, for her 16th voyage.