Our family New Years Resolution was to make the most of any days off we have to visit a local attraction we haven't been too before - we have a copy of 101 Places To Visit In The UK to get through but we're sticking closer to home whilst it's winter! First on our list was my local Aldershot Military Museum which I haven't visited since I was little, so had no idea what to expect! Outside the museum stands this gorgeously proud War Horse, which I believe was made by my wonderful willow teacher Judith Needham. He rose out of the mist and drizzle to welcome us to the museum, which was otherwise empty because we went very late on a Friday afternoon, but we didn't mind having the place to explore by ourselves!
Aldershot is known as 'The Home Of The British Army', and even though many troops have now been moved on, the military town still stands as a prominent part of the town. The museum sits in the heart of it, housed in the only surviving original brick-built barrack block left in Aldershot. The museum tells the story of daily life for both soldier and civilian inhabitants since 1854.
The first building we found was The Montgomery Gallery, which used to stand in the grounds of Field Marshall Montgomery's house near Alton. It was built for him to house his war time caravans but was moved to the museum to house some of the collections of field guns and vehicles. This is what I love most about local museums, you are allowed to get close and personal with the exhibits. What struck me the most was the sheer size of these field guns, you could imagine their booming sound as you walked under the camouflage nets.
Outside there are a number of military vehicles, tanks and ambulances from WW1 up to the 1960s. Mum recognised the Bedford ambulance from when she was a little girl! Heading into the main building we received a warm welcome and were given good clear directions on how to discover the different sections of the museum. The first building is filled with collections of domestic and local artefacts, which are always fascinating to me...probably because they're all things I would buy if I saw them in an antique shop!!! There were lots of enamel signs for local businesses which I always like to see, these fantastic fashion adverts from local shops and recreations of a kitchen in the barracks and a local store.
In the John Reed gallery (named after Brigadier John Reed who established the museum in 1984) there are recreations of the barracks in 1890's and the 1950's, and even a recreation of the first married quarters in the barracks in the 1960s! I loved this pile of troops suitcases, I spent some time reading who each one had belonged too! The mannequins certainly made me jump as I walked in, I almost said hello to the chaps!
Got to love that portrait of the Queen! ATTENTIIIIIIION!
There's plenty of get-involved-attractions throughout the museum for younger (or in our case, slightly older!) visitors, this is why I said we were pleased to have the place to ourselves, we got first-go's on everything! We liked this training jeep simulator the soldiers actually used themselves, although I was a bit confused which was the accelerator - could prove dangerous if I was ever in the field! There was also a tank simulator for you to sit inside, and training tunnels to climb through, of course I tried them all out!
This last structure is The Boyce Building, an original 1930s barrack block originally used by the Regimental Administration Offices for the camp.
Thanks for reading!