Back in time: A visit to Milestones Museum
Milestones is a lovely little museum in Basingstoke showcasing local history alongside Victorian themed exhibits. Visitors can meander down the cobbled streets, explore old fashioned shops and see how inventions like the telephone have changed over the years. There are beautifully restored vintage cars, buses and other vehicles, a pub, sweet shop and even a Penny Arcade on the pier. Younger children can weigh and sort letters or pretend to drive the Post Office van.
We visited on a Friday afternoon in the school holidays and the museum was very quiet, which was perfect for allowing us to explore and not feel rushed.
What is there to do?
We visited Milestones a few years ago during a LEGO exhibition which my children loved, but they were a little too young to appreciate the history surrounding them, so I was curious to see if it would hold their interest now they are 10, 8 and 6. As it turned out they were all fascinated and wandered around happily reading about the exhibits, excitedly passing on snippets of information to us, while asking what life was like when we were younger. They were especially fascinated by the example room sets, with mangles, massive TV’s, radios and retro wallpaper. It was particularly interesting to see how items such as phones and music players have changed over the years and quite eye opening for my children.
For the grown ups Milestones has a traditional pub serving tea, coffee, soft drinks and Gales ales. This smelled just like a real, old-fashioned pub. If I hadn’t been pregnant we’d definitely have stopped to sample a small ale or two.
My daughters’ had a great time dressing up and playing school in the Victorian classroom, which they were really intrigued by, as it was different to their own classrooms.
What did we enjoy the most?
My children LOVED the Penny Arcade and would happily have spent hours in there if they could. You can buy old pennies from change machines, which was an experience in itself as old pennies are huge! The pennies can then be used to play games including mechanical puppet shows, a Grand National Game and our particular favourite was a pinball-type game where you could win a real KitKat!
The sweet shop was also very popular with my children. We used money to buy sweets as we didn’t realise you were meant to buy an old penny and ration coupon at Reception. The children were very surprised to find that people were only allowed 2oz which is about 56g of sweets each every week during rationing. When you see the ration in a bag, it really isn’t many sweets at all.
Around the World Brick Adventure
We visited Milestones during a live action LEGO challenge. The children had to use their special map and detective skills to stop the crown jewels being stolen. The LEGO adventure was brilliantly put together and a great way for us to explore the museum. We followed the map, finding clues at each stage. These were either hidden in the amazing LEGO models or in museum exhibits. The trail meant we stayed together and made our way around the whole museum. We really enjoyed interspersing the LEGO adventure with the historical side of the museum. The LEGO exhibits were amazing, especially the 5m tall Big Ben which visitors earlier in the year had helped build! There was also a free play area, graffiti wall and build your own mini figures available to buy.
Milestones Museum, is a great place for a rainy day as the whole museum is under cover. The café on the top floor looked great, so next time we visit I will definitely leave some time to enjoy a coffee and one of the delicious looking cakes while listening to 1050s music and taking in the view of the streets below.
Family tickets and discounts are available (see the website for details)
Note - The LEGO exhibitions are only on at certain times of year, see the website for details.