While we like to head out and about I do prefer to visit new places rather than return time and time again to the same. N decided he wanted to visit somewhere, turning his nose up at my suggestion. So racking my brain for somewhere nearby, we decided on the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. The last time we visited it still had its old name, and N was only about 3 years old.
It was a pretty grim day, and the motor museum had an antiques event going on, but the car park wasn’t too busy. It’s nice to be able to go out somewhere and not be fighting amongst everyone to try and get close to the exhibits.
Included in the entry price is the main museum plus the Jaguar and reserves collection which is a new building on the site. It’s not expensive for a day out, and there’s plenty to do while you’re there. If you’re a UK taxpayer and gift aid your entry fee, you get an annual pass so you can come back at any time up to a year later. Bargain!
The British Motor Museum are really good at catering for children. For tots there are push along cars to help tired legs, and they also have an activity area where you can do colouring and other activities. They also had a children’s trail to do, looking for the Land Rover fact points around the museum. N isn’t usually keen on a trail unless there’s something at the end…there was, a sticker, and he did do the trail all the way round.
Cars through the years
The museum covers all types of cars. From old ones that are more like bikes, through every age of car and different makes. Up to land speed record vehicles, a caravan, bus, fire engine, old police cars and F1 cars. Land Rover has a section, because Land Rover Jaguar have a base next door in Gaydon, and the area of the West Midlands (plus a mention for Oxford’s Morris Motors) has always had a big car building presence.
Alongside the cars on display, you can also find the history and displays on boards around the walls. Each car has its history on a board so there’s plenty to spend time reading if you want to.
N loved the Lego Mini which visitors were able to help build over the recent half term.
Around the car museum there are vehicles you can sit in, so N was straight up in those too. We saw a couple of groups on a tour being taken round to be the royals in their open top Range Rover, and to get on the bus.
Learning about car systems
The educational side is evident around the museum too. You can have a go on the interactive displays – N has been asking lots about how air bags worked and he could look through the display to find out how. He loved sitting on the suspension chair to see how different types of springs felt compared to one with full suspension. Even on a Saturday afternoon, we had no problem going on the displays we wanted to without having to wait for others.
Walking round there were plenty of answers to lots of N’s car questions, so it’s better for him seeing the answers in front of him rather than asking me or us having to look them up online.
We’ve seen them before at Beaulieu, but the cars from films and tv were on show at the British Motor Museum this time. Judge Dredd, Tomb Raider, Skyfall, Thunderbirds and Shawn the Sheep’s land rover plus others. A bit of fun but nice to see some of the favourites we’ve seen in films.
Once we’d finished the trail, N got his sticker and we headed over to the other building.
Jaguar and reserves Collection
The museum have so many cars, they do rotate them, so the reserves collection enables you to see as many cars as possible. It’s like a warehouse upstairs, but you see first and last cars off factory lines, the last ones signed by workers. All makes, all ages, it’s fun to guess the cars and look out for those you remember from your youth or from seeing on older tv shows.
You can also look down over the balcony and see the workshop below. On the weekend there wasn’t anyone work, but I expect during the week you’d see more activity going on. A nice touch and something you wouldn’t get to see in most museums.
Downstairs it was all about the Jaguars. Some of those are my favourite cars, so it was great to see the variety, and the quirky as well as the F1 cars from a few seasons ago. You can get right up to the cars, although are asked not to touch, and there’s also engines dotted around with plenty of information displays for those who want the detail.
N got bored after a while – he’s not really a child who’s into cars, so I was impressed how long he stuck it out without moaning. Unfortunately it was too wet and cold to visit the playground (it’s really exposed up there), so we headed off home fairly promptly. I’m sure we’ll be back there within the year to make use of our annual passes, especially looking out for the special events they have on.
Have you ever been to the British Motor Museum? Where else similar would you recommend for a visit?
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