Thursday, 15 April 2010

National Coal Mining Museum

Yesterday we went to the National Coal Mining Museum. We were supposed to be meeting two other families there but due to a mix up about where we wee meeting, we spent the first hour and a half on our own.
Outside the front of the museum they had a guy dressed up as a cartoon miner. He kept waving at the kids, Googs was not sure about him, so wouldn't take his eyes off him, and walked straight into a big metal sign.
After our picnic lunch we just HAD to go straight to the pit ponies. Eric and Ernie were in these stables (below) but were lying down. The ponies here actually haven't been down the mines but are the type of ponies that would have been used.
Pit ponies, at one point, actually lived down the pits in stables and only returned to the surface for a few weeks in a year! At the height, there were 70,000 working pit ponies.
With the whole place being new, noisy, huge and with stories of the hardships of people and ponies the children were, at first, a little wary of the place. Of course that meant that they didn't run off which was fantastic :o)
In here they got to press buttons to set of different alarms. Oh THIS room was loved by all :o)
I just had to include this picture because you can just see Googs' face. He was saying "Mom, they won't let me have a go"
ahhhh finally.
Kiki was already leaving to find the next thing.
The whole place was huge. The exhibitions were spread out, inside lots of small buildings. It was so much fun to explore.
There was a little building that told the story of the children who worked down the pits from their perspective. The building was small and very dark. Below is Boo crouching at one of the exhibits, you open the little door and a wind blows and the boy shouts and you to shut it again. It was only until I had been in there that Boo would give it a go and then Champ had to wait to see if Boo would survive before he poked his head inside...briefly :o) the younger two clung to my legs - my brave children!
It really was dark in there, it doesn't look that way from the pictures because of the flash of the camera.
Still in the dark room, and Champ was grinning at his "bravery". He said that it was "freaky" hee hee.
Phew outside again. Starting to relax a bit and enjoy it all.
Wow a train! This time it was Googs who was hiding behind me :o)
Champ really loved this coal shoot. I guess after so many years of Thomas the Tank Engine, it is great to see this in real life.
Inside the main part of the museum was a living history act. This lady told us what life was like as a wife of a miner during the war. She was fantastic! She told us about what food they ate, their rations, clothes, how they lived, washed, the blackouts, the way people called the miners wimps for not going to war even though the coal was needed for the war. She told it as if she was actually living in that time and really included the kids, she asked them questions, gave them hats and scarves to wear and got them up to do some cleaning jobs.

We found our friends! Everybody was happy and set off to enjoy the day again.
While the older lot listen to the living history play the younger ones went to play in here. Kiki was making food for her best friend.

Looking round the exhibits.We had to rush and made it just in time to get on the tiny train to take us to the other side of the site. It only went 5 miles an hour but all the kids were very exciting about it.
The girls sat in one section.
My younger two were with me.

and the boys sat in their section.

Yay we are off!

Googs was very happy at first but then he was disappointed because it was so slow! I guess you can't please everyone!!!!
Of course it is Kiki who climbs the stones.
Inside another building.

Running down to have a look down the mine shaft. You can go down into the mines but the children have to be over 5 so we will have come again with an extra adult.

In yet another building the museum had put on quiz for the children. They were all given a sheet with a number of photos of parts of machines and they had to find them all. Once the children had located all the pictures they were then tested by one of the staff and if they got it right they received a pencil. The younger ones just ran around not knowing what everyone was doing but still joining in :o)

Outside again where Champ spotted this lovely looking toad.
Down to the water.
A shot of the mine from the other side of the site.
Another hut, a nature one this time. The girls had great fun hiding in the cupboards.

We then walked back to the main buildings to go to the park. We stayed at the museum for almost 5 hours!

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