Military Museum Reviews

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#1
It's heading to the season where folk travel far and wide, and inevitably end up at some military museum. How about some reviews of the Military Museums up and down the UK, and overseas.


In the last few months I have visited 3 Military Museums.

The Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop
Tank Museum at Bovington
Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton

The Museum of Army Flying is poorly laid out and very dry. It also looked dishevelled. Although there were some interesting displays they didn't seem to have been placed with any thought. Some exhibits were lacking any information about them. A lack of staff to explain things was noticeable. The coffee shop was mediocre, but the view over the airfield as the helicopters were flying was a bonus.

The Tank Museum is a fantastic day out. Lots to do and see. Interactive displays, things to climb on and through. Lots of information about the exhibits and plenty of staff to talk about the various displays. Plenty of short videos to bring the exhibits to life, and the arena display is excellent. The only thing lacking was seating at the arena (the grass was damp...), but this was such a minor niggle that it didn't detract from the day out. The chance for people to have a ride in a tracked vehicle was a definite plus.

Fleet Air Arm Museum is the best of the three museums listed here. Lots of aircraft to look at, with plenty of video and information. Some very well done dioramas to display the aircraft on. The best part though was the 'carrier' tour. A 'ride' to the ship in a Wessex, walk along a flight deck with aircraft 'landing' and 'taking off' all with a decent commentary. A walk through the 'island' seeing all the various areas (Bridge, Ops Room, Radio Room etc) all with commentary and lots to look at. Concorde 002 was worth a look as well, and the observation windows overlooking the RNAS Airfield to see the helicopter ops was a good touch.
 
#2
You Need " The Military Heritage of Britain and Ireland" by Martin Matrix Evens, covers a great amount of info of military sites, museums, and battle fields, there are a few bits missing but it is a really handy guide, never leave home without it
 
#3
I know from visiting Museum Of Army Flying at Middle Wallop several times over last 20 years how poorly laid out and generally lacking information the displays are. I was hoping when the extension was built and several new exhibits were added that things might have changed but sadly it seems not.
I really hope something is done about this sooner rather than later as with a little local advertising in nearby Andover and Salisbury they could easily double the number of visitors they have and it would be grossly unfair to show them what they currently do!
 
#4
Went to Duxford with the angulettes last week. Nothing flying, but still a good day out. I particularly enjoyed the Airborne Museum, which was new for me, as I haven't been for about a year. Of course, it's trumped by the Royal Anglian Museum, but they tried hard...

It's steep to get in (£16.50 per adult, but free for the kids), and even steeper if you want to buy snacks or, God forbid, lunch.

There is a type of sadness that comes when you're trying to teach your kids about our glorious military heritage, and yet you don't know what kind of a country they're going to be in on May 7th.
 
#5
I went to the British Resistance Museum at Parham in Suffolk recently.
They have an extensive range of the weapons, both manufactured and improvised, on display. There are also time pencils, trips and booby trap switches: Lots of rifles, some normal ie BARs, Springfields etc and some pretty odd eg Greener actioned single shot jobby. There's also a nice collection of pistols including the "Mess" Webley in .455
There is also a hide set up and you can go into it. It is dark and dank and some of the original ones were half full of water most of the time
The place is run by volunteers and the land was donated by Mr Kindred, the farmer whose land the museum stands on; he was also a wartime Auxillier.
We were told that the life expectancy for any of these groups in the event of an invasion would have been two weeks. I have been told by Don Handscombe, ex Thundersley Auxillier, that it was more likely to have two days.
When the Auxilliery Units disbanded many members went straight into the SAS and took part in the ill-fated Operation Bulbasket

Museum Link

Parham is also the site of the 390th Bombardment Group Memorial Air Museum. There is a good display of memorabilia and photographs. The guides are also knowledgeable and are keen to share their experiences

Both museums are free but contributions towards the running costs are welcome

edit: spelling
 
C

cloudbuster

Guest
#6
The inhabitants (I hesitate to call them staff) of the Museum of Army Flying don't want you to visit them. The constant interruptions to their day are considered irritating, and they don't want you peasants from cluttering-up their museum and annoying them by asking questions.

Until you tell them you're interested in buying some of the tat in the shop.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#7
cloudbuster said:
The inhabitants (I hesitate to call them staff) of the Museum of Army Flying don't want you to visit them. The constant interruptions to their day are considered irritating, and they don't want you peasants from cluttering-up their museum and annoying them by asking questions.

Until you tell them you're interested in buying some of the tat in the shop.
I asked them if they could get me a copy of a photo they have in the AOP section of my uncle killed WW2.
Them 'We'd have to charge you and don't know how much'.
Me 'No problem just let me know & I'll pay, send me email & I'll send cheque for it & postage'.
Still waiting.
 
#8
If you are heading for the highlands, can I recommend the Museum of the Black Watch in Balhousie Castle, Perth?

http://www.theblackwatch.co.uk/index/museum

It seems to get better each time I pop in. Although last time the picture of my grandfather and his colleagues in the Sgts Mess c.1920 had been taken down and replaced with some modern display technology!
 
#9
cloudbuster said:
The inhabitants (I hesitate to call them staff) of the Museum of Army Flying don't want you to visit them. The constant interruptions to their day are considered irritating, and they don't want you peasants from cluttering-up their museum and annoying them by asking questions.

Until you tell them you're interested in buying some of the tat in the shop.
I heard their advert on local radio earlier today and was staggered at the utter tripe it mentioned; http://www.andoversound.com/pages/extranet/museum-of-army-flying-i-967.php
Click under the Museum Of Army Flying sign on right of screen to listen.
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#10
I did forget to mention...

Tank Museum entrance fee. £11.00 per adult. MoD 90 Free of Charge
Fleet Air Arm Museum entrance fee. £11.00. MoD 90 £6.00. Guest of MoD 90 holder £6.00
 
#11
Gordon Highlanders Museum, Viewfield Road, Aberdeen

Jolly good museum with cracking displays, stuff for kids and you can even hire out certain rooms for dinner and have it served on the Regimental Silver. If you are an ex Gordon, its a rather moving place.

http://www.gordonhighlanders.com/

I would also rate the Blackwatch museum in Perth as well.

Not sure if its still there, but RGJ museum, Penninsula Barracks, Winchester was also good. :)
 
#12
cloudbuster said:
The inhabitants (I hesitate to call them staff) of the Museum of Army Flying don't want you to visit them. The constant interruptions to their day are considered irritating, and they don't want you peasants from cluttering-up their museum and annoying them by asking questions.

Until you tell them you're interested in buying some of the tat in the shop.
So not much has changed in the last 10 years then?
My late Father-in-law was stationed there in the 60s & 70s and the hubby wanted us to see the museum. The attitude of the staff was beyond a joke . Could do much better with the exhibits.
I agree with Legs though. Bovvy was a brilliant day out but the Fleet Air Arm Museum was excellent especially the Carrier Landing experience. Would thoroughly recommend it!!!!
 
#13
one in brecon,can't remember the name of the museum :( !
apart from Brecon RFC who are across the road. :D
 
#15
llech said:
Museum of the Cheshire Regiment in Chester http://www.armymuseums.org.uk/museums/0000000024-Cheshire-Military-Museum.htm. Not a massive museum but good, only the currator was there but he was warm and friendly to the kids, even let them play with the drums.
It's also is the museum for the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon's. I would describe this as a cheap and chearfull way to spend an hour or two. Yet not too taxing for younger kids.
Many moons ago it used to have an old maxim gun that you could play with no doubt stopped due to health and saftey or somesuch
 
#16
Yes, I went to the British Resistance Museum and the 390th Bombardment Group Air Museum in Parham last summer. Both very good with helpful volunteers.

Also visited the Cheshire Regt Museum in Chester a few weeks ago whilst the girlfriend went shopping. Again very good, allow a couple of hrs to enjoy it properly.
 
#17
angular said:
Went to Duxford with the angulettes last week. Nothing flying, but still a good day out. I particularly enjoyed the Airborne Museum, which was new for me, as I haven't been for about a year. Of course, it's trumped by the Royal Anglian Museum, but they tried hard...

It's steep to get in (£16.50 per adult, but free for the kids), and even steeper if you want to buy snacks or, God forbid, lunch.

There is a type of sadness that comes when you're trying to teach your kids about our glorious military heritage, and yet you don't know what kind of a country they're going to be in on May 7th.
Also had the pleasure of Duxford last weekend and can say it's one of the best places I've visited of a military nature.... ever... so far!
Entrance is a bit steep but you can quite clearly see where it all goes if it's being used properly. Even the OH was interested enough to be dragged round for over 6 hours. Still didn't have time to see the Anglians museum, Military land vehicles or the Airborne section... yet. Just couldn't resist telling the bloke on the civvy VC-10 that his seats were facing the wrong way.
If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes and someone suggested that there were 'Towed German gyro-copter machines, stowed and towed by U-boats used in the second world war, they'd have got a big fat full frontal WAH in their face. You learn something every day
Also a few weeks ago, managed a trip up to Carlisle to see the Kings own Border Regt/ Carlisle castle. Well worth it.
 
#18
Duxford is worth it just for the B52, but don't plan on getting around everything in less than 5-6 hours. I'd say it's worth a day off work during school term time to really get your money's worth.
 
#19
A fantastic new museum 'int North' - the Lancs Fusiliers in Bury. Bestest in world!
 

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