“ Address: 64 - 66 Tooley Street / London Bridge / London SE1 2TF / England „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Be aware that this is NOT Churchill's war rooms, that is in fact another attraction that is supposed to be excellent in central London.
**Britain at War Experience**
Unfortunately, I was misled by "Churchill's Britain at War" - I think Churchill would be sad to see his name put to such a poor museum.
LUCKILY we had a 241 national rail voucher, so paid £12.95 for the two of us. Not too bad, but if we had paid full price I would have cried over every last penny. The "museum" takes about half an hour to go around. If it was a free museum, I wouldn't have a thing to complain about, but the fact it should have cost us £25 for 2 people makes it only worth 1 star (less if I could!).
Firstly you are put in a room/lift with no explanation to what is going on, the room rumbled a bit and I wasn't sure what the heck was happening. I'm not a huge fan of lifts so I was feeling really nervous - apparently it is supposed to simulate a building being bombed, it didn't. It felt like a dodgy lift.
As the doors opened, we went into a room with bunk beds and dummies sleeping in beds, this bit was OK and gave a good estimate of how it probably felt to be in a shelter during the war. We watched a video for 20minutes about Britain in the 2nd world war, I tried to be optimistic, but it was a long video which was interesting but I was keen to see the rest of the experience so after the video we moved on.
We moved into another room where the displays were very poor and looked like they had been hashed together by children. The fonts and text were of poor quality and looked really unprofessional. A lot of the items had been donated but weren't in any sort of order or explained in anyway. My Grandad personally donated a lot of his war memorabilia to schools and exhibitions and if he had donated his items here, frankly, I'd be embarrassed for him and his memory.
One part of the "experience" was to sit in an Anderson shelter, which felt no different to sitting anywhere else that was dark. This would have been so mcuh better with some noise of aeroplanes overhead or suchlike, just to try and understand how it sounded, what it smelled like etc.
The Blitz children who were describing their experience were awful, they were just voices coming out of three "dummies" which looked like the 'blind/lame boy charity box' that you used to get in the 1980s (think Phoenix Nights with Peter Kay).
Finally the piece de resistance, the "blitz experience" - enter a dark room which has a scene from the blitz re-created, except once again everything is so poor quality it doesn't seem real at all. The suspended dummy was really very odd. No explanations at all. It was just like wood and bricks (obviously the bombed bits of the blitz) with some really fake "fire" (aka orange lights) and darkeness. No experience at all, it took 2 minutes to walk through.
**My feelings as I walked around**
I'm ashamed for the people who have donated items in good faith and are strewn into rubbish cases, I'm ashamed for the people who work there for taking people's money and I'm embarassed that people from other countries may come to this museum and think this is the best we could to do represent the home front in World War 2.
Please, please don't visit - save your money and go elsewhere.
On the one positive note, the staff were friendly.
Update to the review posted by me on tripadvisor (dollydaydream84)
Getting to the Britain at War Experience could not be easier. If you get off of the tube at London Bridge you turn right and walk up the street. It will be on your right, further up the street than the London Dungeons.
When we approached the Britain at War Experience I noticed that there wasn't a queue and at first I thought that it was closed...it wasn't closed, it appears that it's just unpopular and if my experience is anything to go on I'm not surprised!
An adult ticket to the Britain at War Experience will cost you £11.45.
Last admissions are at 5pm and they close at 5.30pm.
The first part of the "experience" was watching a video. I found the video to be quite boring. I can't even remember now exactly what was said in the video. The only thing that stands out in my mind is that there was a woman complaining in a letter to her husband that women have it hard because makeup was being rationed (or something equally as unimportant). She even said that men were lucky because they didn't use makeup...I would hardly think fighting in a war was lucky!
I think the fact that this is the only thing that stands out in my mind (and it only stands out because it's such a ridiculous thing to say) says something about the film...it was boring and completely lacking in any personality. The only positive thing I will say is that the room where you watch the film is set out like a bunker which adds to the "experience" feel of the museum.
The next part of the experience is a museum area .
I'm the kind of person who likes to read a lot of information when I visit a museum and this museum had a lot of information available, it wasn't so good for my friend who was ready to move onto the next part way before I was!
When you first enter this part of the experience there are various scenes set up with statues and items from the era, for example there is a scene set up like a pub. I thought it was interesting to see these things and it does help to bring it to life somewhat but I didn't think there was enough explanation about what these scenes were supposed to be. The first one I guessed was something to do with a radio station of some kind but I can't say for sure because there was no information that I noticed (and I did look) that explained it.
I have a pretty good knowledge about the war so I wasn't exactly looking for new information, I was hoping to refresh my memory and get more of a feel for history through the experience side of the museum.
Throughout the museum there are a lot of little things from war time that people have donated and I thought that this really added something extra to the museum, it made it all seem so much more real and not just something that happened a long time ago that I'm disconnected from.
There is an Anderson shelter set up in the museum. You can sit it in and listen to sirens sounding through the speakers and pretend that you're in the Blitz. Fortunately (especially considering the friend that I visited with is well over six foot tall) it is a lot more spacious than a real Anderson shelter would have been. We sat in it for a minute before concluding that it was actually pretty boring and hoping that there would be more to the "experience" than that.
We then moved onto the section about women in the war which was fascinating. Being a feminist I am particularly interested in the way in which both World War 1 and World War 2 helped women to progress from the home to the work place and the information contained in this part of the museum illustrated that really well.
Unfortunately at this point a man working in the museum told us we had seven minutes to move onto the next part. It was 5.03pm which meant that at 5.10pm we would have to leave this part of the "experience", that's twenty minutes before closing time and ten minutes after last admissions!
We tried to rush around the rest of the part about the women and the part about the children in Britain during the war (which is also an interest of mine) but there's really not much you can do in seven minutes and I ended up just feeling really rushed and stressed.
So we moved onto the Blitz.
Up until this point there was very little in the way of experience, unless you include sitting in an Anderson shelter. Unfortunately entering the blitz didn't really change that. It is set up how I assume it would have been in London during the blitz but there didn't seem to be much to do except walk around it and look at it...which I don't consider to be experiencing something! This took less than five minutes and we were out of the Britain at War Experience by 5.15pm. This annoyed me a lot because I could have finished looking around the museum.
I was expecting a lot more in terms of experience. I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of the London Dungeon where there are actors and it's all a lot bigger and more interactive. The Britain at War Experience is nothing like this, it's just one room, set up like the Blitz where you can't really interact with anything in the room. I think that calling it an experience is a bit misleading. For less than £5 more I would recommend going to the London Dungeon instead where you will actually get an experience and far more value for your money.
The museum claims to be accessible for wheelchair users and the video had subtitles for deaf people.
The staff were really rude and unfriendly. I found the woman who sold our tickets to us to be rather abrupt and the man who told us we only had seven minutes left didn't do so in a polite manner. It seemed very obvious that he just wanted to get us out of there as soon as possible. At no point during this visit did I feel welcomed by the staff.
I found the museum part of the Britain at War Experience to be quite interesting and I'm giving the experience one star for that. It was interesting but not worth paying for. Most museums in London are free and the only reason I paid to get into this one is because I thought I would be getting an experience, my expectation was that it would be on the same level as the London Dungeon. This attraction offers very little in the way of an experience and is a complete waste of money. Staff were rude and unfriendly and I will most definitely not be going back.
All year round exhibition.