“ Address: Isaac Newton Road / Arborfield / Berkshire / RG2 9NJ / England „
The REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) museum is a charming little museum situated on the Arborfield Garrison, a hop, skip and a jump from Reading and near to Wokingham, Berkshire.
The museum houses a collection of military vehicules, weapons, medals and items associated with the REME history. If all this sounds a little dull, and the picture here looks a little uninspiring, let me tell you that the REME museum is a little hidden gem that I think is fantastic value and a good half day out.
The museum is reached through the garrison itself and past tanks and the like - so even getting there is a little bit of boy (and small girl) heaven. The entrance fee is very reasonable, current prices to be found on the website - under 5's do not pay at all but will have a great time if my children are anything to go by, and adults pay £4.50 currently (March 2009) with a child price being £3.50 and a family (up to three children) being £13. The museum is not open on Saturdays, check opening times on the website as they vary.
When you arrive at the museum you go in via the shop and cafe (more of which later) and then go through a number of interconnected buildings before coming to the huge purpose built hanger that houses lots of military vehicules and is probably the main attraction of the museum. The rest is very charming in a little bit of history way - the buildings are not the most modern and some of the displays are probably (even) older than me, but all quite interesting. There are uniforms to try on, communications devices to try and things to spot in the Prince Phillip vehicule hall.
The museum have made the most of what they have by including craft activities for children on the way round - such as making a helicopter you drop from the stairs or making a code breaker. They run regular events too - such as Easter egg hunts and memorably for us a mini assault course at half term. If you ever want to see children bombing round a complete mud bath of a track with real soldiers and the children showing that, actually kids are still kids, then this is the place to go. I took my two young nephews last half term and they were apparently talking about it for weeks - they also enjoyed learning how to do drill on the parade ground - again proper soldiers were the draw - I have tried yelling "attention" at my little soldiers after our visit only somehow I don't quite have their touch I don't think - anyway the drill was great fun for the children to take part in and amusing for me to watch. My nephews could have been in an audition for the "before" bit of a washing powder advert by the end of their visit; we were there all afternoon long and only left as they were closing, there were plenty of army engineering activities like building and arial from straws and writing in invisible ink that we hadn't had time to try during our half term visit.
We regularly go to the museum to fill a rainy afternoon - far more fun than soft play! I think the museum would be of interest to families and also anyone with an interest in all things military. It is a small attraction but if you live within 20 miles or so it is well worth a trip.
The cafe at the entrance is staffed by very friendly ladies who serve garrison soldiers and the public alike. When we went last week to the cafe rather than the museum we had a fantastic jacket potato and beans for under £3, baguettes and sandwiches were reasonably priced too.
The small shop contains a number of pocket money toys - including a special 50p box to the delight of my children, along with more military memorabilia.
The REME museum has a number of archive rooms - all staffed that you see on your way round. The REME (so the museum website tells me) was formed in 1942 to improve the Army's repair resources, and the museum was formed to "reflect the REME's role in the army".
I can't claim to have any huge interest in the army, however living nearby I find this place fascinating and we enjoy visting very much - I highly recommend it.
REME Museum, Isaac Newton Road, Arborfield, Berkshire RG2 9NJ, United Kingdom
Email Enquiries or telephone 0118 976 3375 for further information
The museum of the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Displays include information on the evolution of a REME soldier's life through the years, including training, equipment and accommodation.