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A Wealth of Big Boys Toys!
The Muckleburgh Military Collection (Norfolk)
Member Name: brittle1906
The Muckleburgh Military Collection (Norfolk)
Date: 12/10/11, updated on 12/10/11 (73 review reads)
Advantages: Amazing collection of military vehicles and memorabilia
Disadvantages: Not a great deal for children so may not suit those with young families.
My partner and I visited this attraction during a recent holiday in Norfolk. I have to admit that it was my partner's choice of place to visit, I don't really have any great interest in militaria of any kind, so it was with a little trepidation that I agreed to the outing!
**What Is It?**
The Muckleburgh Military Collection is the UK's largest privately owned military museum. The collection consists of a huge array of around 120 tanks, guns and vehicles in addition to armoury, memorabilia and military artefacts from all around the world.
The Muckleburgh Military Collection is housed on the former Weybourne Military Camp. This military base was established in 1588 and in 1914 the area became a front-line defence with a large billet of troops, and the building of pill-boxes, gun emplacements and trenches.
Later, in 1936, the site became an anti-aircraft artillery base and remained in use until 1958.
In 1986, work began to demolish around 200 military buildings which were deemed beyond repair and 45,000 tons of rubble was removed to make way for the Collection which was opened in 1988 by Berry and Michael Savory. Although many of the buildings on the site are modern, the bulk of the collection is housed in the former NAFFI buildings.
The R.A.F. still maintain a Radar station near to the Muckleburgh Collection.
**Where Is It**
The Muckleburgh Military Collection is located on the north Norfolk coast at Weybourne. From Cromer take the A149 road to Weybourne, The Muckleburgh Collection is well signposted off the right hand side of the road.
If using public transport, the closest railway station is at Sheringham and a 'CoastHopper' bus (no 36) can be used for onward travel to Weybourne.
Should anyone reading this review be fortunate enough to travel by private aircraft (!) there is an operational airstrip at Muckleburgh, which visitors can use, subject to a landing fee.
**About The Muckleburgh Military Collection**
Car parking is free at Muckleburgh, the access road is a little bumpy as is the car park, but this was not really an issue for us. The location is beautiful, surrounded by trees and fields, overlooking the sea. From the car park, the area used for tank displays is visible, as are the work yards for current restoration projects.
A short walk from the car park lays the entrance to the collection. To one side of the entrance are public toilets, all very clean, tidy and well supplied with soap, hand towels, toilet tissue etc.
The gift shop and reception area are well laid out and and spacious.
The collection is housed in individually themed rooms or halls. The displays are imaginatively arranged with plenty of space to stand and read the information or simply wander through. The museum is easily accessible in most areas for people with walking limitations and the museum do offer wheelchair hire for those who require it.
We spent around 3 hours in total at the Muckleburgh Military Collection, and far from being bored as I'd feared, I found it very interesting. I particularly liked the WW2 section of the museum, where you could enter a mock up of an air raid shelter. In this section there was a custom made typical domestic kitchen of the period. Although I was not alive in the 1930s or 40s, I felt very old when I recognised items on display from my childhood. I'm not sure whether my grandmother (who is still alive and aged 97) would be delighted or not, to see her still in use, crockery and kitchen utensils on display in a museum!
The military vehicles are of course the main attraction for most visitors and these are actually amazing to see. There are areas of dedicated to tanks, armoured vehicles and anti aircraft guns, to name but a few.
All the vehicles have been restored and are well maintained, many are in drivable condition. Naturally visitors are not allowed to climb on or get into any of the exhibits for health and safety reasons and also to preserve the vehicles.
What really struck me was the sparseness of the interior of many of the vehicle cabs, I hadn't expected to see heated leather seats, but was a little taken aback at the cramped and frankly, uncomfortable looking conditions.
There are in total 12 separate indoor display areas, although there are a few exhibits outside. Unlike some museums, you are permitted to take photographs once inside.
There is a pleasant restaurant which is open to visitors. When we arrived in the restaurant at around 3:30, it was quiet, with just three other couples inside. We went to the counter, which was set slightly apart from the seating area, to order and were somewhat startled to find the restaurant was being closed, especially as Muckleburgh is open until 5 o'clock. The chap behind the counter did deign to serve us with coffee but said he'd put the cakes away for the day! We made do with a KitKat each and took our slightly disappointing snack to a table. He then pulled down the shutters, locked up the counter area, and with a bit of a flounce, left. We and the other customers all looked at each other and started to laugh, which on hindsight was pretty awful, as I'm sure the chap heard us!
Visitors should note that dogs are not permitted inside the museum, however, you can rent a kennel, complete with it's own outside run and access to drinking water, for your pets to stay in while you visit the museum. The gate of each kennel is padlocked and you retain the key for security. The kennels cost £5 to rent, but you do get this back when you reclaim your dog. I think this is an excellent idea and far safer than leaving a dog alone in your car, particularly on a hot day. As my dog was not with us, we did not use this facility, but it is certainly one I'd consider if visiting with pet.
**Opening Hours, Costs and Other Information**
The Muckleburgh Military Collection is open every day (2nd April - 30 October) from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm.
Entry costs £7 for adults, £6 for Senior citizens, £6 for H.M. Forces members, £5 for children and under 5s are free.
A family ticket for 2adults and 2 children is available for £20.
A ride in a military vehicle costs £2.50 per person and these take place more or less daily. We were warned that the ride is rather bumpy, so did not chose to do this as I have an old shoulder injury which I was nervous of upsetting. It did look good fun though and I rather regretted not taking part!
Over 18s can pre-book a tank driving experience at Muckleburgh at a cost of £100. The drive length is approximately 3 miles, people taking part should be in good health and hold a valid driving licence.
Further details and information can be found on the museum's website:-
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
As mentioned, I was a little apprehensive at going to this museum. My late father was a soldier and I have memories of being bored to tears at military events as a girl. Muckleburgh was an eye opener for me, I found the whole experience enjoyable and would be happy to re-visit. My partner was very interested in the displays and exhibits, I think he would have stayed all day if left to his own devices!
I liked the fact that after having visited the museum you could walk around the grounds outside. Naturally areas where vehicles are restored and where the tank displays take place were out of bounds for reasons of safety. The site also offers a children's playground and a picnic area.
In my opinion Muckleburgh is probably not suitable for those with very young children. We saw a family with a child of around 3 walking around while we were there and the little boy didn't seem very impressed!
I feel that the Muckleburgh Military Collection is well worth a visit, the museum is home to many exhibits and so much social and military history is covered, that I considered it was a real value for money afternoon out. I certainly found enough to hold my interest at Muckleburgh.
I would recommend this museum to others.
Thank you for reading.
İbrittle1906 (First published on ciao September 2011)
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.
Summary: A remarkable place, well worth a visit.
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