We went for a bit of a road trip around some of the north-west of England and as the war museum had been recommended to us as a great place to visit we made our way there.
What a fantastic place, I couldn’t fault anything at all. Make sure that you wear really comfortable shoes, though, if you do go, because it took us about four hours to get around it all and I was pretty nearly exhausted by the end of it.
I had never been to the Imperial War Museum in London before as it was actually shut on the day that I was in London. It was about thirty years ago and at that time most of the museums were not open the whole week. I don’t really know why but I suspect it was all the fault of the ghastly Maggie Thatcher, I’m blaming her anyway.
Consequently, I had no real idea of what would be on show. Well they had just about everything. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take any photographs, so you will just have to take my word for it that they had a Harrier jump-jet hanging from the ceiling and various different vehicles which my husband could recognise from a vast distance, it must be a bloke thing.
But there were also lots of more personal things. People’s letters and cards, photographs and clothes. The most moving exhibit to me was a massive pile of suitcases which had been piled up on top of each other making the shape of a huge doorway. Representing just some of the people whose lives had been ripped apart by war.
The only thing that I think it lacked was an actual Anderson shelter, which you could go into and sit for a bit to imagine what it must have been like, maybe they could rig up the sound of bombs dropping outside as well. I’m quite willing to admit that this could just be me being a bit strange and that nobody else would find that interesting at all. As a 5 year old I suffered from Anderson shelter envy. I could only gaze over the garden fence at the next door neighbour’s shelter and I always wanted one to play at ‘house’ in.
The Daniel Libeskind building, which came in for a lot of flak at the time it was built, is actually really great and perfect for the purpose.
You should make time to take the tour of the building which is provided every hour. We had a lovely, enthusiastic young woman called Jenny as our guide and she explained all the thinking which went into the structure and design of the space.
And it was all free, which I think is a good idea because I always feel the urge to be really generous with donations when I’m not actually forced to pay an entrance fee. I think I might be quite unusual in that way though as I didn’t see much evidence of hard cash in the donations box, apart from mine. There did seem to be a lot of 5 pences and coppers. Such meanies.
A highly recommended day out.