Britain’s must-see museums
In the latest issue of BRITAIN magazine, on sale now, we reveal 27 must-see museums… There are so many fabulous museums in Britain though that not all our favourites made the pick, so here’s the best of the rest
Gordon Russell Museum, Worcestershire
Set in the renowned 20th-century furniture designer’s original grade II listed workshop, this fascinating museum celebrates Sir Russell’s work and that of his company over a period of 60 years. He was chairman of the design panel that controlled the Utility Furniture programme throughout WWII and played a major part in the 1951 Festival of Britain Exhibition before being appointed the director of the Design Council, promoting British Industry and Design worldwide. The firm became recognised both nationally and internationally as a major contributor to 20th-century design. The Museum features 1,000 of Sir Gordon’s original design drawings, including furniture, metalwork and glassware; a unique collection of furniture embracing the Arts & Crafts and machine production; and filmed interviews with Sir Gordon and others who worked for the firm as designers and craftsmen.
The first recorded posting of a Penny Black took place in Bath on 2 May 1840 and this unique little museum includes stamp collections as well as biographies of key figures involved with the development of the Post Office and connected with Bath, such as Ralph Allen, John Palmer and Thomas Moore Musgrave; a history of the post from 2000BC to the current day and a history of the British postal wall box, from 1854 -1998, showing original examples. Artefacts on display include quills and ink wells, post horns, clay tablets, strip maps, model mail coaches and, letters and postcards.
Royal Air Force Defence Radar Museum, Norfolk
Perhaps more suited to boffins and technical bigwigs than your average museum-goer, this is nevertheless an award-winning museum, run completely by volunteers. Housed in the original WW II Operations block, the Museum traces the history of the RAF Air Defence Radar network from the Battle of Britain through the Cold War right up to today. Visit the actual Cold War Sector Radar Operations Room and RAF Coltishall Rooms, with a guided tour included in the entrance price.
Solent Sky Museum, Southampton
Solent Sky Museum showcases the history of aviation in the Southampton and Solent area. Geographically this area was the most important area in the country, if not the world, for aircraft experimental and development work between 1908 and the late 1960s, the most famous being the Spitfire. Visit 18 aircraft of various types, including the Spitfire and S6b. Or the more technically-minded among you can examine a good selection of engines. We welcome people aboard the Sandringham Flying Boat; and why not take a tour onto the flight deck. Or you can imagine that you are flying the Swift or Harrier Jump Jet while sitting in the cockpit. Opening in September will be our new Schneider Trophy Exhibition.
Haynes Museum, Somerset
This family-friendly museum at Sparkford in Somerset is home to more than 400 cars and bikes, dating from 1885 to the present day. It is the UK’s largest exhibition of great cars from around the world. The museum offers a host of familiar names such as Austin, MG, and Morris as well as an array of performance cars, from modern classics such as the Dodge Viper RT10 and the Jaguar XJ220, to the more historic Jaguar E Type and AC Cobra. Also on show is a large collection of American cars, including the jewels in the crown of Haynes – the V16 Cadillac, and the multi-million-dollar Duesenberg. For the children there is the Ghostbusters ambulance, autogame experience, themed play area, soft play-bus and many other activities.
Lords Cricket Museum, London
The MCC Museum is contains a wide range of exhibits, but is best-known for being the home of The Ashes. Created in 1883, the Ashes urn was given to the England cricket captain, the Hon Ivo Bligh, after his side triumphed against Australia in the 1882-83 series. On his death, in 1927, his widow, who had helped to create The Ashes in the first place, bequeathed the urn to MCC. Since then, the tiny urn has remained on display at Lord’s, where it is seen by the tens of thousands of people who visit the museum each year. The Museum’s other displays include cricket kit used by some of the greatest players of all time – such as Victor Trumper, Jack Hobbs, Don Bradman and Shane Warne.Contact details Gordon Russell Museum 15 Russell Square, Broadway, Worcs, WR12 7AP 01386 854 695 Bath Postal Museum 27 Northgate Street, Bath, BA1 1AJ 01225 460333 Royal Air Force Defence Radar Museum Nr RRH Neatishead, Horning, Norfolk, NR12 8YB 01692 631485 Haynes International Motor Museum Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 7LH 01963 440804 Solent Sky Aviation Museum Albert Road South, Southampton, SO14 3FR 02380 635830 Lords Cricket Museum Lord’s Cricket Ground, Saint John’s Wood Road, London, NW8 8QN 020 7616 8595