Quite an emotional day for me today, going back to the place where I had my first “proper” job after university: The Institutionof Civil Engineers. I had a ball working there: loved the people, the location and the role; even though I chose to move on eventually and pursue a different career, the ICE will always hold a special place in my heart – not least because I made some dear friends who are still very present in my life.
If you haven’t been in this venerable old building, located in the heart of Westminster, I strongly encourage you to do so – although the ICE is a membership organisation, you don’t need to be a member to visit 1 Great George Street and take advantage of its facilities, which include a bar and a brasserie. Today, I was headed for its magnificent Library (also open to the public), which is where the Bridge Engineering exhibition is being held. You may have read about this exhibition in the press; it’s received quite a lot of (very favourable) coverage, not least because it features the world’s longest-ever LEGO bridge – 31 metres long. To put that into perspective, that’s the length of three London buses. For big kids like me who love LEGO, this is all your Christmases come at once.
The exhibition itself is excellent, and you definitely don’t need a background in engineering to enjoy it. It tells the story of bridge building from 18 BC up until the present day – and believe me, dry as that might sound, it is a fascinating journey. As you wander through the exhibition you are guided through a number of amazing structures: Thomas Telford’s Menai Strait suspension bridge, Robert Stephenson’s Britannia Bridge and the more modern Severn Bridge being just some examples. There are plenty of interactive elements, too: a highly entertaining virtual reality zone, and the opportunity to build your own LEGO bridge model (yay!).
All that, and lunch with two of my favourite people. Honestly and truly, one of my best days out in a long while.