Chap. XX.] Novel Experiences of the Author. 287
In the summer of 1851, I had another experience of ooating on the Thames in a visit to the Chinese Junk Keying, which was anchored opposite Essex Street, Strand, and which was on show to the public. The inside of the Junk presented a curious appearance, and it was a wonder that such a craft could have been safely navigated from China to England. I am not perfectly sure whether my visit was to the Junk when it was anchored ;as above, or when it was in the docks at Blackwall; I am rather inclined to think I saw it at Blackwall.
During the 3 years, 1857 to 1860, when I was an Engineering Student at King's College, I saw a good many interesting things ; in particular the manufacture of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable, the Great Eastern Steamship when nearly ready for sea; and divers factories, works and mills, including the Great Eastern Railway Works at Stratford from which, in company with a fellow Student, I returned to London on the foot-plate of a locomotive engine. At the invitation of another fellow Student and at a little later date, I went down one of the shafts in the Penge Tunnel of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway.
In the autumn of 1883, whilst staying near Chichester, I had an invitation to take a cruise in the West Wittering Life-boat. Though the boat only went out for practice and the sea was not particularly rough, still the trip gave me an insight into the handling of a Life-boat, and the difficulties and dangers which Life-boat crews have to face.
At East-Bourne in 1895, one of the side shows of the Schools' Fancy Bazaar mentioned in another Chapter was a captive Balloon. This I thought too good an opportunity of acquiring knowledge to be lost, so up I went; and the experience was intensely interesting and delightful. I was able to realise to the full the great value of balloons for military purposes in enabling a General to learn and study the disposition of hostile forces. From the Bazaar standpoint, the balloon was a financial failure, for the number of passengers who would venture in it, proved to be very limited.