Visit to Milestones Museum – 21st January 2012
We enjoyed an excellent day out at the Milestones Museum over at Basingstoke.
The museum is entirely located in what appears to be a huge aircraft hangar, making it ideal for visits all year round.
We arrived just before it opened at 11am and were therefore among the first visitors in for the day.
Milestones is full of mock buildings and shops set out in streets to represent how we used to live. You’re able to go into some shops and there are various ‘manned’ areas – e.g. you can buy a drink in an old-fashioned pub or sweets at a retro sweet shop.
We started our visit in a Play Post Office which is particularly set up for younger children and offers the opportunity to sort post and send letters etc.
Emerging into ‘Jubilee Street’, we were able to view various shops including a milliner’s, the Baverstock Arms, a saddler’s, an ironmonger’s and an Edwardian cottage.
Venturing through a ‘Time Tunnel’ we found ourselves back in the 1930s with various old delivery lorries, a bus and authentic shops including a cycle shop, a sweet shop, hardware stores, a toy shop and probably the most interesting being a camera shop and a gramophone and radio shop.
Some shops allowed you to venture inside to view displays, complete with mannikin figures – some of whom appeared to be conversing, with their conversation played through hidden speakers. Other shops were simply window displays and had no access inside.
The girls were able to buy some sweets from the sweet shop by using old pennies and ration cards – designed to show them how things were in the war, when you were limited to a bag of sweets a week!
The camera shop was packed with displays of old equipment including cameras, early camcorders and even old video recorders. Some of the displays were made all the more poignant given the recent news concerning the demise of Kodak.
The gramophone and radio shop also had large stocks of old vintage equipment which the girls found interesting.
The gas showroom had posters and relics including old bathroom geysers which used be positioned above a bath and heated by gas!
We were able to go onto an old bus, where a lady explained about the roles of the Bus Conductor/Conductress and the Ticket Inspector.
Probably the best area was the Collections Corner. Located here were everything from a huge range of old vacuum cleaners to antique toasters and irons. It was a fascinating collection and more worrying just how many things there that I could remember either having had at home or seeing at my Grandparents’ house!
Another area had a series of rooms from different decades all set up with genuine furniture and fittings from that period.
There were also areas set up for larger industrial equipment including a sawmill, tram shed, an agricultural showground and a paint works.
During the afternoon, the girls and Sarah joined several other children in attending a school lesson. This involved lining up in two rows outside (boys and girls), having their hands checked and then being allowed into the classroom.
Inside they enjoyed some teaching centred around the ‘Three Rs‘ and were able to use old slates and slate pencils.
The girls also enjoyed the opportunity to dress up in period costumes.
We finished our four-hour stay with a look around the well-stocked gift shop which includes an impressive array of old games, toys and books.
We didn’t partake of food in the cafe, having brought a packed lunch with us.
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Milestones. There were just a few minor things we felt could be improved:
- Develop and allow access to all of the shops, rather than just shop windows of some.
- Have more staff dressed up in period attire, perhaps demonstrating some of the old jobs, as well as just ‘selling sweets for a couple of hours’.
- Perhaps change the layout to have the buildings grouped in more organised sections – Edwardian/Victorian/1930s so that there is more of a ‘flow’ to a visit.
- Create and allow access to some houses from the different periods to show how people used to live, as well as how they used to work.
- Arrange for some heating in the building!
These minor quibbles aside, it did make an excellent day out, and I’m sure we’ll return again at some point in the future.