Its hard to be out of the house by 10am on a Sunday, but we did it, in order to be at the Booth Museum for a behind the scenes tour with Keeper John Cooper.
On the way to the Booth we passed 3 vans and perhaps 5 guys, all electrical types. Round the corner saw the reason for so much gear and manpower – someone had knocked over one of our 1950s lampposts, and clearly the risk of death required scores of hours of labour to get it isolated and removed. One more bit of heritage gone, another galvanised steel tube to be stuck up.
Mr Booth was a rich man with a passion for shooting birds which he had stuffed and set up in glass cases decorated to resemble the bird’s natural habitat, and he was one of the pioneers of this method of display. There are over 300 diorama cases in the museum, and every bird in his collection was shot by Mr Booth himself. His house was on the edge of Brighton and he had the museum built in 1874 beside the Dyke Road in his extensive gardens. When he died he left the museum (but no land) to the town. We were the second choice, he first offered it to the British Museum, but they rejected it. It is well off the holiday makers route and only gets about 30,000 visitors a year, whilst the smaller and (perhaps) less interesting Fishing Museum gets over 300,000 a year mainly because its on the seafront.
The Booth also houses the Holmes collection of Dinosaur bone fossils, bought for £55 by an astute Museum Director in 1887. Holmes collected from the 1820s, before Richard Owen invented the word dinosaur, so God only knows what he thought he was collecting.
The Chalk fossil collection of Henry Willett is also here, and is so good it contains many type specimens (those which have been specifically chosen to represent the species) as well as many cited specimens – those referenced in published papers. Sadly Willett is probably better known for his pottery collection, which is down the road in the main museum.
At 12.30 I headed down to the greenway and joined a group of volunteers hiding out of the rain and talking about cutting back some of the summers growth. At one the rain stopped so we had to stop talking and get on with it.
After an hour I left for a beer or three. Brighton Beer Dispensary for halves of Late Knights’ ‘Hop O the Morning’, a hoppy stout, and ‘Old Red Eye’, a red ale, not so much in colour as in Caramalt content, giving it the toffee flavour common in red ales. Then Revolution Brewing’s Clash London Porter and Nigel #8. The last being especially good, but also the strongest at 6.9% I think. On to the Evening Star, once again not going into the bar at the top of Regent Hill, since it insensitively fired all the staff to do a refit. Half of APA and of Meltdown but the spicy dark ale from another brewer was most distinctive, but I’ve forgotten its name. Then the Cyclist at the station for Downland’s APA before calling at the Hare and Hounds for half of Firebird APA. Last two bars charge £4 a pint for the beers I tried, so I will try there only rarely (after several other halves, when the will is weak).
Forgot to show you some Veteran Cars I saw earlier.