Another weekend, another road trip. Our poor little car will be needing a rest from the A1. This weekend Manchester was the destination and budget was the theme. Handily my Dad’s friend Freddie has a big enough home to accommodate us all (my parents included) and we lined up some free family fun. First stop on Saturday was Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.
Museum of Science and Industry
From Freddie’s home in Hale, we jumped on the Metrolink from Altrincham to Deansgate station which took around 20 minutes. I was impressed that children under 11 are free on Manchester transport. Tyne and Wear Nexus take note!! On leaving the Metro we followed Freddie, our Manchester tour guide, to the entrance of the Museum. My Mam was particularly impressed when she spotted a Farrow and Ball paint shop. The things that make her happy!
The Museum is free to enter and we were met by a friendly guide who handed a sheet with the times of the events taking place. The girls bought a £5 sticker book based on the exhibits in the Museum which meant I didn’t feel too guilty passing the donation buckets.
The first thing you see when you head in a wall of TV’s of all shapes and sizes stretching up the atrium to the second floor. The photos are from mounted ipads of the visitors. Selfie taken and spotted on the TV we headed around the exhibits. First up Manchester Mills Demonstration.
This exhibit was in a sunken part of the gallery which meant that everyone had a good view of the machines. The process of turning cotton in plant form into a piece of cloth was explained in easy to understand terminology. The whole demonstration took around 30 minutes.
A sense of the noise and danger of a Cotton Mill 150 years ago could really be felt. Kids as young as 5 were taken from local orphanages to act as scavengers keeping the machines clean in the smallest of spaces. I will remind the girls of this when they moan about cleaning their rooms!
Next stop was Experiment! A hand-on children’s science exhibition. Not too dissimilar to the Wonderlab at the Science Museum in London, but a little smaller at 35 exhibits and free! Imogen enjoyed riding a bike to see her skeleton and using the concave mirror to see a reflection of her own hand. Abigail enjoyed the infinity mirror and attempting to make a pyramid from tennis balls.
Alan and I took on the recycling game which was set up like the dance mats at the amusement arcade. Only this time, we had to sort recycling into the right bins. The emphasis in this section of the museum was on reducing the amount of waste we produce and how big businesses are finding new solutions. We had quite a sweat up by the end!
Engineer Eric’s Difficult Day
Billed as a show for 5-11 year olds we headed to the Power Hall to see this show. The ‘stage’ was Pender the steam locomotive which you could see the inner workings of, and seating was on the stairs around it. Again, this meant everyone got a great view of the show.
The show was a fun ‘Chuckle Brothers’ style 20 minute show where useless Eric had to be helped by the audience to pass the Fireman’s test. The little show was amusing but you couldn’t help but pick up the facts of how a steam locomotive worked. Great fun and some good comedy moments!
Air and Space Hall
After a quick lunch break at Mcdonalds, we were back for more museum action at the Air and Space Hall. Housed in the former Lower Campfield Market this huge space contains cars, bikes and planes that were all important to Manchester’s development.
Highlights include a replica of the Roe Triplane 1, the first all-British aeroplane from 1909 and a 1905 Rolls Royce used by Henry Royce himself. In this space there are a few flight simulators which you can go on for a charge. The girls enjoyed seeing the cockpit of a plane. How the pilots know which buttons to press is beyond me!
Wonder Materials: Graphene & Beyond
As we approached this exhibition Alan said ‘I’ve heard of graphene, it’s going to change the world, but I’m not sure why?’ After this exhibition we were all experts. The material was first isolated by scientists at Manchester University winning them the Nobel Prize for their efforts. Made of a single atom of carbon it is super conductive, lightweight and strong.
Suggested uses are in the medical and technological industry and could make long lasting batteries for mobile phones. For someone who is constantly charging up their phone I’m all for that. The only problem is it’s very expensive and time consuming to extract. Hurry up scientists get us the graphene!
More information on the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry can be seen here …..
We would recommend anyone in the area to put a day aside and visit. The exhibits are informative, well kept and best of all it’s free. Leaving around 4pm we had barely scratched the surface. Sometimes the lure of coffee and the retail therapy is too great.