We had a great day at the University of Birmingham's Lapworth Museum of Geology on Saturday. We were provided with refreshments on arrival then began our guided tour with curator John Clatworthy.
Starting in the main hall we were told about the history of the building from its beginnings as workshops, through to its use for housing ambulances and finally to its use as a museum.
We looked at some rare fossils from the early periods of life on earth and also the famous ‘teenager’ Allosaurus, with its foot and rib injuries. Next we came to the ‘wall of stones’, which shows examples of many different igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, weighing in at over 3 tons in total.
We moved on to the minerals section which is conveniently arranged in colour order and contains wonderful exhibits from all over the world, including a lead mine in Shropshire. According to John, some of them are exceptionally valuable, with individual specimens worth tens of thousands of pounds. Many fossils and minerals in the collection would have been found by local miners and other workers who would supplement their meagre wages by selling them to mine owners or collectors.
After lunch, we moved into the Museum's private rooms and were shown some stupendous items which are not regularly displayed, including ‘bendy’ flexible sandstone, a sheet of pliable mica and some beautiful jet objects.
Our visit was concluded with a viewing of many old and unique documents, including original geology maps, top secret WW2 geology maps for the Normandy beach landing sites and workbooks from the 19th century.
We would like to extend our thanks to John and the Museum for such a wonderful tour. Members of the public can visit the Museum for free and we thoroughly recommend it!