VICTA’s first family day of 2017 saw us travelling back in time at Milton Keynes Museum. Families came from far-and-wide to experience what the museum had to offer and it definitely did not let us down.
Beginning with the Victorian House, we experienced music from the Victorian era and got a real feeling of what it meant to be a socialite in the period. We also played some Victorian period games, a Pianola instrument and learnt where phrases like “Put a sock in it” originated.
We then went on to school, and found out lots of interesting facts about Victorian age schooling and the ‘methods’ used by teachers to get children to learn. The children were able to sit at original school desks and experience using a slate board. After school, it was playtime, and we were able to look at, feel and even play with some old-time toys, ranging from rocking horses to train sets and much more!
Our whistle-stop tour of history then took us through to an authentic Victorian kitchen and washing room. The children were able to imagine what it would have been like to take care of a mansion house using much more basic appliances. After such a busy morning, it was time to go shopping. We found ourselves immersed in the MK Museum ‘High Street’ which featured original shop frontages and a real atmosphere of what it was like before Milton Keynes became a modern town. Pubs, blacksmiths, butchers, bakers and convenience stores lined up both sides of the High Street.
After lunch we went to church. Inside, we were able to do brass rubbings using paper and crayons, which allowed the children to feel what they were rubbing, whilst another group played on the church’s organ. Still moving forward through time, we then came through to the farming section, where we were able see lots of pieces of machinery that helped local farmers to grow crops and look after the animals they were keeping.
The museum’s main attraction is the extensive collection of telephones in the communication room. All the phones work which meant that we were able to call each other through the operator, exactly the same way that it would have worked in the early days of public telephones.
The final showcase at the museum was the transport room. With Milton Keynes being a central hub for transport for many years, this along with the communication room was another main feature. Our group were able to climb aboard a few vehicles, which allowed our group to engross themselves in the atmosphere further. The tram was a particular favourite along with the fire engine and the horse drawn carriages.
Overall, it was a brilliant day and our profound thanks go out to the wonderful volunteers at Milton Keynes Museum who helped to give us a truly fantastic experience into the past of Milton Keynes and its surrounding areas.
By John Smith
Children, Young People and Families Activities Coordinator