The Dock Museum
The Dock Museum Barrow-In-Furness Reviews
The Dock Museum Feb 15, 2014
The Dock museum is in Barrow-in-Furness, a small, industrial town perched on the edge of England, mostly famous for nuclear submarine repairs, and, if you are a Brit in their mid-30s, for being eaten by a monster in a 1980s advert for a fruit sweet called Chewits. It has displays about the history of Barrow-in-Furness, some information about ship building, and a revolving display of temporary exhibitions. The setting is a modern shell over a Victorian dry dock.
The history of Barrow-in-Furness is, basically, getting invaded by the Vikings, Vikings lose interest, town sits there perfectly peacefully for the next 1000 years or so, and then suddenly discovers iron ore and becomes a major iron-and-ship-building centre, booms for a scant few decades and then loses most of its yards in the late twentieth century. The museum has a very interesting section on the Bronze and Iron Age finds from the area, with a gorgeous 2000 odd year old belt buckle that’s been perfectly preserved, and some absolutely ancient, perfectly made arrow heads from another few thousand years before that. There are also some silver coins from a Viking hoard, including a significant number of Arab dirham; Vikings invaded the bleak, underpopulated British isles for farmland and loot, but preferred to use trade in the better armed Near and Middle East.
The section on ship building, with its model ships, wasn’t quite as interesting and I might have liked a little more information about the actual processes involved. But it’s quite atmospheric to look at displays about ship building with the enormous BAE nuclear submarine yards hovering over you through the window. The dry dock itself was good to see, and there were some interesting information films in the lowest level.
Disabled access is possible, although you need to ask them to help you. Admission is free. There is, of course, a small café and a gift shop. This small museum is well worth a trip if you find yourself near Barrow, although I am not totally sure how you would go about finding yourself in Barrow by accident, given that it describes itself as “the end of the longest cul-de-sac in England.” Whether or not you decide to make a special trip probably depends on your general attitude to industrial history and two hour train journeys along the coast; I am very much in favour of both, but this is probably a niche pursuit.
Part of the UK 2014 travel blog
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