“ Address: North Bridge St / Sunderland / Tyne and Wear / SR5 1AP „
When involved in a transport themed topic at school we tend to visit this museum as it is close to my place of work and admission is free. The museum is on a main road and in the centre of the city. Whilst there is very limited parking next to the museum it is worth thinking about parking arrangements if taking a car.
The museum is housed in a Grade 2 listed 1840s station building commissioned by George Hudson, who was a railway entrepreneur. Monkwearmouth station was once the main station serving the city of Sunderland so there is a general grandness about the building. The outside boasts large columns, which stand next to the door. The door is quite a good idea because when you walk up the ramp (good disabled and pushchair access) and get to the door, then you have to be buzzed in. No booking is required but it seems that this locked door policy is as much for safety than anything else. I like this idea because when we visit with children from my class I am always mindful that just outside the museum is a very very busy main road. Once inside, we are in a rather grand entrance hall and old booking office; they both have many original features such as the ticket booths, fireplaces and shuttered windows. There is also a small shop selling the usual touristy paraphenalia only this time with more of a train slant.
Having undergone a million pound devlopment scheme, the museum is now home to seven interactive galleries with hands on transport themed activities for children to be involved in. Most of these are inside the museum and as well as interactive activities there are also personal stories and memorabilia on the walls of the station.
Our favourite place is the Platform Gallery which is basically a large greenhouse on the side of the metro line. Inside there are tables and chairs and plenty of colouring sheets and pencils. Here any school work taken specifically for the day can be done and picnics eaten. However, should you wish, it's a pleasant enough place to watch the metros pass by, without getting all the noise and worrying about children running onto the tracks.
There are ever changing activities, and during holidays there is usually a whole series of events. I had a quick look and this summer holiday there is something running every week including a visit from Bob the Builder, and KNEX kit building- the theme of the summer is "Can we Build it"!!
Address: Monkwearmouth Station Museum, North Bridge Street, Sunderland, SR5 1AP
Tel: (0191) 567 7075
Monday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 2pm - 5pm.
Closed: 25 & 26 December and 1 January
The museum is worth a visit if you are in the area but be aware that the parking is very limited (blue badge holders only) and if walking from a parkng space with young children be mindful of the fact that the road is very very busy.
The various artefacts are interesting especially for people with some interest in railways and the buildings and the building itself is well preserved. Throughout the year there are various activities for young children- there seem to be more over the school holidays which is understandable. However, I would suggest that the activities tend to be (although not exclusively) for younger children- definitely Key Stage 1. Older children may enjoy watching the trains.
A pleasant morning out if in the area.
Thanks for reading.