Discover your local museum this Christmas time

Director Bill Griffiths at the Milton Keynes Museum
Director Bill Griffiths at the Milton Keynes Museum
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ANYONE looking for a truly special seasonal spree should head to the Milton Keynes Museum this month.

This hidden gem is tucked away in Wolverton, but it provides a fascinating insight into the depth of history that MK itself has to offer.

An enriching experience is guaranteed, as visitors can discover the development of the 14 villages in the area, culminating in the creation of Milton Keynes in the 1960s.

Open all year round, the museum celebrates the festive period in style with its Victorian Christmas event, enthralling children and adults alike.

Diane Roder, a volunteer at the museum since 1976, explains the number of school children who visit every year amounts to a party of excited pupils most days.

The museum offers a loan scheme to schools so they can borrow items and exhibits are closely linked to the National Curriculum.

She describes how, for the Christmas extravaganza, the parlour is lit up with a roaring fire and visitors can tuck into her delicious homemade mince pies from the tea shop.

In the Victorian schoolroom, young visitors can have a go at making their own Christmas decorations before they visit Santa Claus in the welcoming cottage setting.

A toy room displays traditional toys and games, including well-loved teddy bears and a golly.

Visitors are then transported to a traditional high street.

This indoor stretch of shops has been lovingly restored by dedicated volunteers who have re-erected old shop fronts collected from Wolverton, Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell.

Visitors can step inside these fully-furnished shops and glimpse what it would have been like to have been a patron of such stores.

The Angel Inn – the Stony Stratford pub shop front restored to its former glory – presides over the high street.

Glance upwards and you will see a woman upstairs doing her make-up, the model forever immortalised in the high street that is immune to time.

Other shops brought to life include the old Co-Op from Newport Pagnell and the Ironmongers, which used to be Eddie’s Butcher’s in Wolverton.

Director Bill Griffiths is a fount of knowledge, full of tales about every exhibit.

He is enthusiastic about the scope of the museum, admitting he would like to see more development to make it a major attraction.

The museum does not get any revenue funding and receives only some maintenance funding so the tireless work of its 100 volunteers is vital.

The agricultural area has something for everyone – children can milk a (cardboard) cow while history buffs can learn about the development of agricultural equipment.

The transport section houses – among other things - a Wolverton to Stony Stratford tramcar which came in as little more than a shed and was painstakingly restored by volunteers.

Finally, the telephone room houses an impressive collection of phones, including the early mobile models, brick-like in appearance and heavy compared to our current hi-tech gadgets.

Mr Griffiths sums up the aim of the museum perfectly.

He said: “We are always trying to get better because we want to show people more and the essence of the museum is to be hands on.”

> Visit the Milton Keynes Museum on McConnell Drive, Wolverton for “A Victorian Family Christmas”

Fridays 4.30pm – 7pm; Weekends 1.30 – 6pm

Adults £5

Concessions £4