There are a lot of weird museums in London. Big names like the British Museum and Natural History Museum – with their Egyptian artifacts and dinosaurs – are great, but the real fun is in seeking out the capital’s alternative and quirky institutions. You’ll find fewer queues and crowds, and you’ll leave feeling informed, captivated – and possibly a bit queasy.
In a nutshell:
Longplayer is a 1,000-year-long piece of music composed by Jem Finer (guitarist from The Pogues), which you can listen to in a lovely old lighthouse in Docklands.
Where is it?
Swerve around the A-roads of East India Dock, duck down Orchard Place (less scenic than it sounds) and you’ll come to arts hub Trinity Buoy Wharf. Go past Fat Boy’s Diner and the colourful work studios of Container City to find London’s only surviving lighthouse.
What does it sound like?
You won’t find any ‘Fairytale of New York’ vibes here. Finer has created a piece of music with singing bowls. The effect is a constant harmonious hum that can be heard resonating throughout the lighthouse. It started playing on December 31 1999 and has been going ever since, organically developing with no repeats. (Although every time we go it sounds pretty much the same!).
What makes it great?
Visiting Longplayer is a magical experience. Climb up to the glass lantern room at the top of the tower and gaze out at the panoramic view of the Thames and beyond. The enchanting echoing sound makes everything feel cinematic – perfect for romantic moments or just staring out over London contemplating the meaning of life.
When should I go?
It’s open every weekend. Times vary throughout the year though, so be sure to check before you go.
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