Laurence's Walks in London
Laurence's Walks in London
Laurence's Walks in London
Laurence's Walks in London

Your Guide to the Curious History of Science in London

Laurence Scales, specialist London guide, brings the history of discovery, invention, medicine and intelligence to life for a general audience. Or, if you are a scientist, find out more about how we came to where we are today.

I offer scheduled and private walking tours, and also write articles.

Surprising life stories, curious personalities and adventures, forgotten by-ways of history and startling achievements are my passion, especially in science and invention, secret intelligence, social history and London's pioneering infrastructure.

 

I am a specialist writer and tour guide but my tours and articles have very wide appeal. Through advantages such as my volunteer work in 'heritage and collections' at the Royal Institution I believe that I have access to an exceptional range of stories about science, medicine and invention in London, not just about 'the usual suspects'. I have sifted masses of detail and extracted the best stories to surprise, amuse and inform. It makes for unusual London walking tours. I am writing my own London Science Guide.

 

It is my mission to represent a fascinating side of British culture, largely neglected by other guides who focus on art, royalty, literature or entertainment. My walking tours cover subject matter that others do not (and vice versa). They provide an alternative and unusual view of London.

Alternative London Stories

Bored by kings and queens? Find a different sort of history in London.

  • Boffins in coffins at Brompton
  • Secret ink at Mayfair
  • Scientific fraud at Notting Hill
  • Dinosaur dung at Westminster
  • Weaponry at Woolwich
  • Peculiar pets at Chelsea

Do you have a special interest? Whether it is chemistry, microscopy, air conditioning, lighting, telegraphy or just something unusual I should be able to devise a tour.

London Science Guide

My walking tours for small groups visit the homes and haunts of remarkable characters from history. But instead of the artists, nobles and politicians I bring you the ingenious, enlightened and eccentric, typically scientists, inventors, engineers and spies.

 

It's like a Hollywood Stars' Homes bus tour. But it's not in Hollywood, the stars are from science and there's no bus!

 

Aimed at a general audience these walking tours in central London or in one of London's 'villages' feature attractive architecture and quiet and pleasant stretches in back streets, parks or along the water. They cover social history and the often surprising evolution of London's infrastructure.

 

I can also cater for older school students and university students.

Recommend this page on:

Explore the History of Science, Invention and Medicine in London

Some Recent Tours

Nine Boffins - A Westminster war walk

Woolwich - Military engineering heritage

London Secret Agents - Codes, deceipt, gadgets

Boffins in Coffins - Cemetery tours

Geeky Ladies - Practical women in history

Royal Society History - Unofficial tour

On Woolwich Common

A Geeky London Timeline

1641 Binary code, Holborn

1784 Air rage, West Brompton
1786 Surgery at 10 Downing St
1797 Weighing the world, Clapham
1799 High speed data, Southwark
1852 Gauging beauty, Kensington
1892 Decorative electrics, Bayswater
1915 Inventing the gas mask, Pimlico
1940 Battling the beams, Richmond
1965 Sniffing out spies, Lambeth

Photo: Mike Gould

The whole of London is a science museum. Many key events in the history of science happened in London including the formation of the Royal Society, the invention of the electric motor, and imaging the structure of DNA.

Location

Other walks feature Local Heroes (and a few villains) in Mayfair, Kensington, Lambeth, Chelsea, Belgravia, Notting Hill, Bayswater, Holland Park, Richmond, Blackheath, Smithfield, Marylebone and Wimbledon.

 

These unusual London walking tours, mostly within zones 1-4 of the Travelcard area, last about 2 hours, but there are some longer walks which involve a rest stop.  Click here for a tour menu.  For mobility aspects see General Information.

Locations of Laurence's Walks

Science Tourism in London

This is not the history of science textbook-style, but I offer colourful stories of invention, experiment, discovery and adventure put into context and told in appropriate locations in a great city.

 

Local Heroes?

 

Science history is global history. London is home to world famous institutions like the Royal Society (founded 1660), the Royal Institution (founded 1799), the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. Many world famous scientists* and inventors have also lived here including Charles Babbage, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Alexander Fleming, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, Alan Turing and James Clerk Maxwell.

 

I have also taken upon myself a mission 'to make known the notable unknowns'. Literally hundreds of people with significant and enjoyable life stories (bizarre and esoteric if you prefer) have been forgotten. Outside my walking tours these are not easily accessible to visitors, even via the heritage blue plaques.

 

I cover all sorts with science or enlightenment in their story: explorers, pathologists, code breakers, cooks, camouflage artists, manufacturers etc.

Intended Audience

  • You like walking or exploring around town,
  • You have perhaps visited London's famous sites before and want something more unusual,
  • You are interested in history but perhaps missed out on the sciences,
  • You like science and engineering,
  • OR, like many of my customers, you do not think of yourself as a science tourist but you like to see and hear something new and interesting.

Geeky London

Laurence's Walks Word Cloud

'There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know.' - Ambrose Bierce

*The term 'scientist' dates from 1834 and describes those who use the scientific method, although it took a century to catch on. Prior to that the term 'natural philosopher' was used to describe those who sought to describe nature (space and matter) by any means available.

Next Tour

To be scheduled.

Contact me for private tours.

Please check transport before travel especially at weekends & below for last minute changes.

Last Minute Changes

<<Currently no changes to scheduled tours>>

Contact

For queries, please email

laurence@laurenceswalks.co.uk

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