Down Memory Lane at Milestones Museum
Run by Hampshire Cultural Trust, Milestones Museum is a huge, cavernous immersive space, which houses under its cover a re-created Victorian streetscape complete with a working/serving pub and a hugely popular sweet shop, among other things.
Descending the stairs our group dispersed to try out the different displays and activities – exploring the shops, warehouses and businesses from a bygone era, checking out the Thornycrofts collection of vehicles, sharing reminiscences in the roomsets of past decades, or queuing up to stock up on favourite sweets or pints.
The museum is a great introduction to the industrial and economic history of the Basingstoke and Hampshire areas: vehicles made by Thornycrofts and vans delivering goods to shops, the woodworking mills and mechanics workshops, to hardware and grocery stores selling everyday items, newly emerging time-saving domestic appliances and radios and cameras.
The room sets – the Way We Used to Live – are a fascinating re-creation of home interiors in the different decades from 1930s to 1970s.
Spartan and intensely practical kitchens and living rooms of the pre- and post-war years give way to the more indulgent and luxurious décor of the 1960s and 1970s.
Eavesdropping on other visitors’ conversations one could take a trip down memory lane as older visitors reminisced about memories of their own homes.
One young girl excitedly proclaimed to her mother that she would “love to live” in a house with the 1960s décor. Our group congregated on the 1950s sofa to exchange notes on what they had seen.
The wonderfully nostalgic and fun Penny Arcade was packed with families trying out their luck on the pinball machines, What the Butler Saw, Fortune Telling and other gizmos than went click, clunk, crash. Some of our team were not pleased when they got the results from a machine that revealed their personalities from their palm impressions!
A quick whizz through the nostalgia-fest that is the shop and it was time to clamber back on board for the return journey home. One young mum told us how delighted she and her son were to have had the freedom to explore the museum at their own pace and enjoy the sections they were particularly interested in.
As another phase of our project came to an end, we were delighted to get some really good feedback from all those who had participated in our museum trips over the summer. The trips – fully organised and paid for by the project – offered affordable, informative and enjoyable days out for the young families and older people from the Swaythling area. Travelling to and from the venues together with family, friends and neighbours offered everyone a chance to get to know each other and participate in our TRANSITion project.
Written by Padmini Broomfield