My husband gets very excited about steam engines. It’s not so much in the ‘standing in a field with a flask of lemonade whilst writing numbers in a small book’ kind of a way, more just a ‘if there happens to be a museum with a train we’ll go once and have to have an engineering lesson’ kind of a way. Milestones Museum in Basingstoke had the perfect combination for him, and it turns out for Weasel, steam and Lego! Sadly we missed our photo opp with the Wookie due to a nap on the way in (thought it might be a slightly cruel way to wakeup, particularly after a previous experience with a storm trooper), but here’s a random internet photo of a Wookie to make up for it! And a slightly more sensible one of Weasel playing with Lego at the special exhibition.
There was the the intended fun to be had with big steam engines, rotating cars, fake air-raid shelters and play-kitchen thoughtfully placed in the museum to occupy small ones. Then there’s the Lego exhibition on until mid-April providing Lego tables for even the tiniest, a Lego Star Wars stop-motion animation on a big screen, models of Star Wars stuff (and historical Basingstokian buildings that I’m not sure even the locals would recognise!) and a lot of treasure hunting. Weasel was way too young for the treasure hunt, which seemed to mostly involve clip-boards and running through rooms to find aliens from what I gathered. We even got to make these bad boys (or possibly ladies, verdict still out) for £2.50 each, which will sadly be put on a shelf for the next year until they’re a little less of a choking hazard.
Weasel seen here pointing out the Death Star, her firm favourite in the display cabinet. That will be a good excuse for a Christmas purchase I’m sure….
Then we get on to the unintentionally fun things about the museum: the big dirty glass balcony for toddlers to lick and bang their hands on, a giant mirror next to the changing table (always a big hit) and cobble-stoned indoor streets that they can run a muck on without parents freaking out.
This is definitely worth it with the Lego, might be a little steep at £15 for 2 if there wasn’t the Lego element. Unfortunately having been to the much larger Blists Hill Victorian village in Shropshire, this one seemed a little underwhelming for us adults.
Changing– decent, available in the upper loos at the entrance in a separate unisex room.
Parking: At the leisure centre, so it’s free and there’s a nice pram friendly path up the hill to the museum.
Food – cafe at the front struggling to serve the amount of customers at woefully inadequate numbers of tables. Menu choices were limited to jacket potatoes, soup of the day and the one tomato & cheese sandwich left in the chiller. The kids could have half a potato with one filling and a juice box for £3-ish. The ‘pick 3 items’ kids menu had only 4 choices of items – sandwich, yoghurt, crisps and jelly – not inspiring. The potatoes were good, don’t get me wrong, they even came with salad and butter. The problem was they took 20 minutes and sat on the side getting cold for half that time. We sat in the unadvertised additional seating near the loos, and the confused waitresses did venture round there for deliveries to be fair to them, although bringing the screaming kid’s in the first trip would have been a nice touch. What would easily sort this place out would be more tables squeezed in, a more organised service counter and a choice or 2 more for lunch.
Verdict: Go if something cool is on or if your kid is super into steam engines. Take a picnic and eat on the lawn.