Milton Keynes Museum
“Where history comes to life”
Opened in 1973, Milton Keynes Museum is now the largest museum in the UK run purely by volunteers. Through their determination and enthusiasm, and with their animated tours, these amazing people make the exhibits and their stories come alive. Bill Griffiths successfully manages the museum procuring funding and lottery grants to enable its continuation and support future expansion.
Sitting in 4 ½ acres, with the manor house at its heart, the site dates back to the Doomsday book, and was owned by the Longueville family before being sold onto famous doctor, John Radcliffe. When the site was purchased by Milton Keynes Development Corporation, areas were let for the establishment of a Museum a well as for office and creative space.
The Farmhouse is full of antiques and furniture and games would have been played including puff billiards, wind up gramophones and a Pianola (a self-playing piano). The school room has rows of old wooden desks with chalkboard and items used to discipline, very different to modern day schooling. There is a Parlour, a Toy room and in the Kitchen where you can make toast on the fire.
The street of shops was set up in 2001 with the smells and sounds of a historic street, displaying original frontages, cabinets, counters, scales, bottles and more from actual local shops and public houses. The shop fronts are from villages and towns around Milton Keynes making it an incredibly authentic experience.
The site of the museum was commercial agricultural farmland. The farming gallery displays exhibits including steam ploughs made by William Smith of Woolstone and a Forge which has a working Blacksmith recreating and making items on the furnace.
In the Communication Hall you can see the various methods of communication through the ages, from smoke signals and cannons (if you can handle the bang!), to old phone exchanges and police call boxes. You can even pretend to be a telephone operator transferring calls to other phones in the room.
In the Hall of Transport the world’s first compression ignition engine is proudly displayed, together with the World’s biggest steam tram. Sitting inside it you can imagine how it must have felt to be one of the 100 people it could transport at a time, travelling from Haversham through to Deanshanger.
The presses and typefaces of McCorquodale Printing Works of Wolverton are on display in the Print Shop. It employed only the daughters of the men working in the railway works (as married women were not expected to work!).
A treasure trove of local historical facts and diverse activities for all ages, the museum is definitely well worth a visit for anyone who is interested in the history of Milton Keynes and Victorian life, innovation and technology.
Special events include musical and theatrical re-enactment of historic events in addition to the ever popular Victorian Christmas weekends.
In fact the best way to see it all is to purchase a season ticket. These are great value and a fantastic gift as there is always something different to see.
Individual hire may be available for corporate and other events – please get in touch to discuss your individual requirements.