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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882)

So back to our London trip - M had expressed a wish to visit the V&A which due to its being on the wrong side of town tends to lose out to the British Museum on our cultural wanderings - but we thought that wed stretch our legs and visit as there was an exhibition of contemporary South African photography which was taken in after a brief wander around the lovely South Asian and Middle Eastern rooms and a cuppa in the rather lovely tiled dining hall. Its a really interesting glimpse of a society in flux. Whenever I look at some of the abuses of power going on around he world I think of the fact that nothing lasts forever and that in my lifetime Ive seen the fall of the wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa.

Opposite the V&A is the Kazakh embassy on which is the plaque for Sir Henry Cole. Cole was a member of the Society of Arts and an early proponent of memorial plaques. He was a civil servant who began his working live at the age of 15 in the National Records Office where he rose to the position of Assistant Keeper. From 1837 to 1840 he worked under Sir Roland Hill and helped introduce the penny Post - hes even credited with designing the worlds first christmas card. He visited the 1849 11th Quinquennial in Paris and inspired by it secured Queen Victorias backing of the Great Exhibition of 1851 which championed British industrial supremacy. The financial success of the exhibition meant thata significant surplus would fund the development of the South Kensington / Albertopolis development which he to a large extend supervised. He was the first direector of the V&A or at least the Museum of Ornmental Art as was and so was responsible for one of the great treasure houses of the world. at some point Ill have sort out some listing of museums but the V&A is certainly something...

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