Wednesday 22 February 2012

Pendon Museum, Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire

My brother and I used to go to Pendon Museum when we were little, and at 4 we thought Charlotte would be just the right age to take. My brother has very fond memories of Pendon, he loved it so much he wanted to volunteer.

Pendon has recreated in miniature rural scenes and transport from the 1920's and 30's, since opening in 1954 the museum has always been a work in progress so each time you visit there could be another little house/person/animal recreated perfectly. The attention to detail is amazing.

The first room displays the Madder Valley Railway, which due to its fragile state only runs on a few days each year. There are boards explaining the use of buildings, and a display showing what the buildings are made of (manila envelopes it seems). The next room has the Dartmoor Scene with a stunning Brunel timber viaduct and mainline station. Seeing the trains go past and the people sat in the little carriages is lovely. Even better if you are fortunate enough to be there when they turn the lights out and see the carriages and station lit up.

The last room is the Vale Scene, a typical English countryside scene with farms and cottages and a train puffing through, all recreated with precision detail. Charlotte did laugh when the giant popped up from the middle of the display to get the train going again!
A lot of the displays are raised up and even with a step-stool (on loan from the entrance desk) we had to lift Charlotte up for a few things (she is 1m, displays are 1.4m). There was quite a bit of history we could teach Charlotte about, how buses have changed, and trains, how we get our water out of taps instead of a man with a horse and cart. But I think being a girl some of the train things were a bit lost on her.
Pendon does offer a good value hour or so hour slowly wondering around the displays, its all indoors and run by volunteers so great for damp days and something for all the family. There is one set of stairs if taking a pushchair, a small tea room, didn't notice any babychanging facilites in the toilets.

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