The Thames Museum is in its early stage of conceptualisation but its founders want to create an iconic museum/visitors centre dedicated entirely to the archaeology of the River Thames, telling the story of life on the river through the ages. The range of artifacts within the museum collections will cover the entire life span of the River Thames – including fossils from prehistory, London’s early human inhabitants, the Roman occupation and the following two thousand years up until the present day.
The visionaries behind the project, Steve Brooker and Nick Stevens, have their own vast collections of artifacts recovered from the River Thames over 25 years which they plan to donate. The museum will also be able to use finds recovered over the last 50 years from fellow mudlarks.
Visitors will be offered an accessible, friendly and memorable experience based not only on the collections but also on the interior design and layout. The museum’s displays will be set amongst re-creations of timber wharfs, sections of river wall, 17th century warehouses and other examples of London’s historical waterside.
Collections will constantly change and new exhibits will be added regularly as new finds are made on an almost daily basis. Information on new finds will become a key part of the museum’s social media strategy to spread the word. This should result in a museum that is forever changing and one that will be different every time it is visited. One visit will not be enough.
During the 18th and 19th centuries many of London’s poor would search the riverbanks for anything of value. These original “mudlarks” were often children, mostly boys, who could earn a few pennies selling the coal, nails, rope and bones that they found in the mud at low tide. As London was a busy port, things were often dropped in the water and cargo sometimes fell off passing boats. Unfortunately a mudlark’s income was generally meagre.
In contrast today’s mudlarks have a passionate interest in London’s rich archaeology. They have changed history many, many times and work very closely with the Museum Of London and P.A.S (the Portable Antiquities Scheme) where their finds are recorded and often displayed.
“As well as creating a fantastic and original new museum for London we want to share our passion for history in order to inspire, enthuse and inform a younger generation” say the founders.
The museum plans to offer educational trips to the foreshore to schools and other educational bodies.