“ Address: Museum of the Manchester Regiment, Ashton Town Hall, Market Place, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 6DL / A look into the history of Tameside and its people. „
I have been visiting places recently, especially over the schools summer holidays as my kids tend to get bored quite easily if we're trapped in the house all the time, which leads to them arguing and fighting with each other.
So, the wife and I have had to find things to entertain them, looking for things that cost the least amount as times are hard these days, as you know.
Anyway, we discovered a few places that are a nice low price to visit, with one or two places actually offering free admission, and it is one of those free admission places that I am going to tell you about today.
The place I am talking about is called the Museum of Manchester Regiment and is situated in Ashton-under-Lyne's Victorian Town Hall on Wellington Road. The Town Hall is just off the market place which is minutes from the train station and the bus stops.
** GETTING THERE...
The museum itself is in the Town Hall building, just off the A670, which is more or less in the centre of Ashton shopping area, so it has cracking access using both public transport and by car. The trains station and bus stops are within walking distance and car parks are scattered around the nearby area.
** The actual address is...
Museum of the Manchester Regiment
Ashton Town Hall
Sat Nav is OL6 6DL
It is open from 10am until 4pm Monday to Saturdays and the admission is free.
** WHAT IS IT EXACTLY... and what's there?
It's a museum which shows the tale of the soldiers of the Manchester Regiment from 1756 until 1958, telling the stories through the things that have been found which the soldiers used in there day to day lives, with objects such as uniforms, battle equipment, coins, medals and other things.
The museum has different exhibitions on, changing every so often, when we went the exhibition was something called 'A stitch in time', which shows hand stitched tapestry's which are made from patches of different colours and meanings.
There are several galleries which have an array of picture hanging everywhere, each one telling the story of the soldiers lives in a clear photographic manner, the pictures cover such things as the Crimean war, American Independence and both World Wars. There are also pictures showing how the soldiers managed there day to day lives too. Apart from the pictures there are also nearly 2000 medals and a lot more to see.
There's also a rather spooky section which takes you back into the lives of the soldiers during the wars, with a First World war trench and the Barracks that they would have lived in, with some cracking sound effects to add to the eeriness of it all.
On the lower floor there is the 'Setantii' section, with some exhibitions which are pretty impressive and quite scary indeed. These take you back through time right back to the Celtic era in a frightening way indeed.
Also on the lower floor there was a table laid out with lots of papers and crayons on it, which was for all the younger children to sit down, draw pictures and colour in. Apparently this activity is only on when the schools are on holiday, which I think is a good idea.
There is a lifts giving those in wheelchairs, or pushchairs, or even those with walking difficulties an easier way to get from floor to floor.
There are toilets, which include disabled and baby changing facilities and there is a shop selling souvenirs to take home.
Unfortunately there is no café but as it is in the bustling market area there are many many places to get a bite to eat and a drink.
** MY OPINION...
I was quite impressed with this little museum, considering that it's based inside a Town Hall, and was glad that I found out it was there.
To get into the museum you have to use the entrance to the Town Hall itself, which is quite grand in itself, and if you don't know it's there, is quite easy to not realise that it is the actual way into the museum.
We went inside the Town Hall and the bored looking, but quite polite, chap at the front desk pointed the way to the museum, so we followed his directions, soon finding ourselves in slightly darkened rooms. These room contained several glass cabinets which were filled with many exhibits, such as military equipment from the passed to the more up to date fighting equipment. There were also several military vehicles scattered around other rooms, such as jeep and motor cycles.
So we wandered through the maze like walk ways, taking our time, looking at the history that was in front of us, learning as we went.
Even my kids seemed to be enjoying themselves as they read the information leaflets which accompany every exhibit.
There were some exhibits that we could sort of interact with, including the chance to sit inside what I can only describe as an Anderson shelter, showing how people used to have to sit during the air raids. Whilst sat inside this we watched a video which told the story of people living through the air raids during World War 2.
Also, there's a chance to feel how the soldiers had to live in the trenches, with some cracking audio filling my ears and my mind. In fact, it was quite a surreal experience listening to the sounds as I stood in the trenches.
Then we headed into the next part of the museum, into an area where the exhibits tell the story of the how Tameside has grown, from the Celtics to today, with some of those exhibits being quite scary indeed, such as a preying monk who just might turn around at any moment, and the broken grave which contains something pretty hair raising indeed. Both these exhibits frightened my kids and, to be honest, sent a bit of a shiver down my spine too.
But what I found really scary, not just by looking at it, but by the idea of how it was used years ago, this is the barrel with a few nails not quite hammered into the right place.
But there are more mellow exhibitions, such as the life of the people living in straw huts or the way people used to make glass jars, or even take a bath.
The museum isn't massive and only took us about forty minutes or so to get round the first time, so we went around again in case we'd missed anything on the first go, so it's not really a full day out. But, considering it cost nothing to get in and is so easy to get to, it is certainly worth a visit next time you're in Ashton doing your shopping.
So before you drag yourself around Ashton Market, nip into the Town Hall and the chap at the desk will point you in the right direction, then you can take in the history of Tameside and the heroes that have given us the right to enjoy this history.
In all, There was quite a bit to see, in such a small space, with some very interesting facts surrounding the life and times of how Tameside grew into what it is today and how the soldiers used to live.
If my easily bored kids enjoyed it then I'm sure your family will enjoy it too, so give it a go, you'll not be disappointed one bit.