The Museum Of Power
Hatfield Road, Heybridge, United Kingdom
The Museum Of Power Heybridge Reviews
Museum of Power Sep 13, 2008
I love small, random, independent museums. And this one is particularly good, because it is free.
The museum of power is on a backroad near the lovely and historic - although frankly, dull - town of Maldon. It is housed in the former pumping station for the town, in lovely parkland with a smallish river and some nice trees. Entrance to the museum is free, although rides on the miniature railway - one steam train, one diesel, and a whole bunch of excited toddlers - is about £5.
The museum, in so far as it specialises in anything, specialises in the history of machinery. The centrepiece is the former pump engine, and it also includes a clock that runs on ball bearings instead of pendulums, an entire workshop of lathes and machines transplanted from North London, a display about Bentalls, who used to manufacture cars in Heybridge in - oh, 1906 or something (actually, the car they have from 1906 or something has a current tax disk and is beautiful, so they must have been pretty good at it!) and, in the best traditions of small museums, an entire shelf of empty petrol cans. There are old vacuums (dad, sho has never vacuumed in his life, gets nostalgic), old parafin heaters (my mother gets upset because she can't POSSIBLY be so old that stuff her mum had is in a museum), and the Exact Ballast Pump the ships my Dad sailed in had (my parents: "gosh, I pumped TONS of sh...." "John, that's enough!"). With a great sense of humour, the display on Ford V8s quotes Clyde from Bonnie and Clyde, there are quotes from Fred Dibnah (you'll have to be a Brit who's dad has discovery channel to get that reference...), and there are brave attempts at explaining the role of steam governers and regulators in an interesting way, which are mostly successful.
There are also enough player pianos and buttons to press to keep all the children - into their teens on the day I went - happy and overexcited. The typewritten sheets were informative and there were no irritating trendy computer touch screens to cause bottlenecks.
This is an interesting, small museum that deserves a look if you're in the area with either parents or children. The little train rides look fun, and the place is fascinating, although I think it would actually be pretty tricky for an adult to understand all the signs about the machines if they were also trying to keep track of which engine their children were setting in motion. It was good fun, and I'd recommend it.
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