diamond geezer

 Monday, August 29, 2016

When you've been to Portsmouth and Southsea several times before, where else is left to visit?

Genesis Expo
From outside it's not immediately obvious what this building on Portsmouth's harbourfront is. A fossil shop, it says, although the reference to Genesis turns out to be rather more pertinent. For this is a Creation Museum, the UK's largest, whose agenda is to promote the Bible's six-day origin story by debunking evolution. It's a ridiculous theory, apparently, and there are firm scientific reasons why everything Charles Darwin proposed must be wrong. As well as a shop full of fossils and minerals, the model of a 20ft dinosaur called Boris lurks just inside the door to help lure the open-minded within. But proceed a little further, or scan the bookshelves more carefully, and the true nature of the premises becomes more clear.

A dozen-or so cases of evidence twist round in the dark space beneath the upper landing, each dismissing some 'fact' evolutionists hold dear, or providing some alternative explanation. Fossils look just like today's creatures, we're told, which is firm evidence that species remain unchanged. Marine sediments can be laid down really quickly, like when there's a landslip or something, and rapid sedimentation 'explains' why the burial of fossils didn't take millions of years. Mutations 'always' result in a loss of genetic information, so there's no way any complex modern plant or animal could be the result of one. Indeed there can't have been any new species since the creation, only species lost to extinction, despite what 'Neo-Darwinism' claims. By the time a gravestone pops up claiming 'Here Lies The Theory of Evolution RIP', you can almost hear the exhibition's creators shouting 'QED'.

Upstairs is a looping video, with the volume down too low to hear, and a somewhat optimistic number of chairs. There are also a couple of spinny racks brimming over with photocopied leaflets on diverse topics the Creation Science Movement think deserve explanation. 'How Old Is The Earth?' 'Evidence for Noah's Ark and The Flood' 'Geological Fallacies' 'The Stooping Rhodesian Man Fraud' 'Plant Geneticist Says No To Evolution' Each leaflet costs 15p, presumably to dissuade unbelievers from taking one of each for a laugh, although the CSM's journal and a leaflet aimed at children are available free.

To my eye all of this is ill-founded rubbish, but I was struck by the museum's delivery of seemingly cogent argument which the less critical could easily take as cast iron truth, and I imagine a Climate Change Denial Expo would feel quite similar. I deliberately resisted kicking off a discussion/debate/argument with the two volunteers on duty - they seemed perfectly happy chatting with each other. The only other visitors were a mother and her young son, he excited by the scientific treasures in the gift shop, she steering him away from the children's books and DVDs with steely resolve. No attempt at conversion was made, indeed the approach was politeness itself, but one wonders how many people wander in after a trip to the neighbouring Royal Dockyard without quite realising what they're being 'sold'.

Southsea Model Village
Located on the Esplanade between the Canoe Lake and the Rose Garden, this unlikely 1950s survivor is a charming reminder of a gentler past. A third of an acre in extent, Southsea Model Village is concealed inside a coastal defence called Lumps Fort, its name spelt out in white pebbles on the mound below a scaled-down castle. The main entrance doubles up as a snack bar, seemingly more popular amongst the families playing outside, but look carefully for the sidegate and just £3 will let you through.

The village is built to 1/12th scale and contains a fairly motley collection of buildings from a church and watermill to shops and cottages. A few have bits missing or aren't in the very best nick, but there's a reason for this which is that a new set of owners took over this year, just in time to celebrate the village's 60th anniversary. They had to tackle long-term neglect, and a sad case of vandalism over Christmas, but are giving the place some 'love and attention' as proven by a fresh lick of paint all over. The compact site also boasts five model railways of various lengths, weaving around the site, under the path and across the water. In Bekonscot-style many of the businesses depicted have punning names, for example the blacksmiths are I Cloutim and E Bellows, while the brewers are Stagger & Tripp. Meanwhile various period figurines add a further human touch, not least the cluster of traffic wardens gossiping in the centre of the high street.

The fort's upper mound makes a useful picnic area overlooking the Solent, while the space underneath has been put to an unusual use. A few years ago volunteers dug out the 125ft Rifleman's Tunnel leading to the heart of the caponier, at the end of which is a small chamber containing a giant model of Portsmouth Guildhall. Local pensioner Ron Breadner built it out of matchsticks over a 14 month period and donated it to the city council, who in turn offered it to the model village where it now sits behind glass buzzed by the occasional trapped fly. Alongside is George Betteridge's 33 inch-high matchstick model of the Spinnaker Tower, now half-buried here after a mere week on show at its full size namesake. And if you've ever wanted to see a matchstick windmill built by a one-armed Croydon fishmonger, a shed outside provides your golden chance.

I spent more than twice as long at the Model Village as at the Creation Expo, and smiled rather more too. The target audience is obviously families with small children, as those circulating alongside me attested. But connoisseurs of miniature nostalgia will find much to delight, if they don't set their sights too high.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards