Discovery Museum

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Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Discovery Museum - Historical photos, Discovery Museum
Discovery Museum - Turbinia in the Discovery Museum
Discovery Museum - Headline news, Discovery Museum
Discovery Museum - Discovery Museum
Discovery Museum - Discovery Museum

Discovery Museum Newcastle upon Tyne Reviews

Toonsarah Toonsarah
566 reviews
Great insights into Tyneside history Nov 14, 2017
This museum on the west side of the city is devoted to the history of Newcastle and Tyneside, with an emphasis on science and industry. It is housed in a former Co-operative Wholesale Society warehouse, and grew out of the collections of the former Municipal Museum of Science and Industry, the first science museum outside of London, which had opened in Exhibition Park, near the Town Moor, in 1934. That museum, which we visited many years ago, closed in 1993 when this one opened. It was only recently that we got around to visiting it in its new incarnation – we should not have left it so long as this is an excellent city museum.

As soon as you enter you are greeted by the impressive sight of Turbinia, a 34 metre long ship designed in 1894 by Tyneside engineer Charles Parsons. This was the world's first steam turbine powered ship and for five years, until 1899, was the fastest ship in the world, reaching speeds of up to 34.5 knots. Beyond this the museum opens up, with galleries on either side spread over three floors. These include:

The Newcastle Story, which covers the history of the city from Roman times to the early 21st century. This was the main area we visited and although not large it easily kept us interested for over an hour, with displays from each of the main periods of Newcastle’s history. I especially enjoyed learning more about the development of the city as a centre for trade during medieval and Tudor times, with activity focused on and around the Quayside, and the 20th century sections, showing how the city gradually took on its present-day shape and remembering the changes I have seen personally in the 35 years since I started to visit regularly.

Story of the Tyne, which focuses on the importance of the river to the development of industry and engineering here. This includes of course the impact of the shipbuilding industry but also coal mining, with the coal that was exported down the Tyne being at the heart of the city’s prosperity.

Working Lives, which tells the story of how work has changed here from the time of the Industrial Revolution to the present day.

Tyneside Challenge, looking at how various regional challenges have led to innovative solutions and inventions – the latter include the steam locomotive, Puffing Billy, developed to move coal from the collieries to the river, and the self-righting lifeboat.

A Soldier’s Life, offering an insight into the lives of soldiers in two locally-based cavalry regiments, the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars (now part of the Light Dragoons) and the Northumberland Hussars (now part of the Queen’s Own Yeomanry).

Destination Tyneside, focusing on immigration to the region from the mid 19th century onwards as illustrated by the stories of real individuals – a Polish Jew escaping persecution in 1874; the Italian couple who founded what is now a Newcastle institution, Mark Toney’s ice cream parlours; a Yemeni fireman who came on a merchant ship and never left.

There are also special sections for children such as Play Tyne (water play using a model of the river) and Science Maze, with hands-on exhibits.

In addition, there is a café on the top floor and a shop on the ground floor. We didn’t visit the former but did have a quick look in the shop which has a mix of children’s pocket money toys, a selection of books about the region and a few good quality souvenirs such as nice mugs, pictures etc.

Admission is free, although there is a suggested donation of £3.00 (it is easily worth that). We bought a nicely illustrated guidebook for £4.95 which I can recommend too.
Discovery Museum
Discovery Museum
Turbinia in the Discovery Museum
Historical photos, Discovery Museum
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