Yes, this is proper anorak territory. On a rainy, cold, supposed-to-be-spring day, we headed up to Brentford to relive one of Husband’s childhood days out – Kew Bridge Steam Museum. Before we set off, Weasel had clearly been brainwashed, repeating over and over in the car “I love steam engines! Going to see steam engines!”. Oh dear.
There are in fact quite a lot of steam engines here, boasting the world’s largest collection of steam pumping engines. Exciting? All I could say to Weasel was “what colour is that one?” and “oh look, it’s a cafe!”. I suspect once their major refurbishment is over in 2014, this place will be a wee bit more mainstream. As is, there are mostly pumps and an awesome historical building. When this miserable winter finally ends, there’s a picnic area that does look like Weasel would enjoy. Tickets are annual, so we’ll be back when the sun finally makes its appearance.
Picnic area next to the big beam thing
Parking: Free! We went on a Saturday (it’s only open weekends until 2014) and yet there were plenty of spaces.
Costs: £10 annual membership – shockingly cheap.
Cafe?: Oh yes. Although the coffee is of the drip variety, I did secretly enjoy the builder’s tea in random mugs. And Weasel demanded (err, maybe it was me who suggested it, so I could steal a bite) the home-made cherry scones which were to die for. They’re about to tear out the old cafe for the refurb, so the main hall is the current site. There is seating up the spiral staircase where you can see the pumps doing their pumpy thing.
Weasel – big fan of butter
Baby Sister with extreme food jealousy
What kind of mind-blowing pumps are there you ask? : They seemed to be mostly called beam engines, although they all looked quite different. Some are Cornish. That’s the extent of my knowledge! Check online before you go as different ones are pumping on different weekends. So if you’ve always wanted to see the Grand Junction 90 inch engine pumping you wouldn’t want to show up the wrong day and be disappointed, would you? We saw the green one, the beige one and the brown one with flowers going.
Weasel pointing out the red one
Other coloured ones are available, here is beige
Pram Access: We took ours since Baby Sister was asleep. Do not take a pram. Maybe, who knows, they might make it more accessible with the changes they’re making. There were wheelchair lifts in some places, but not many and I’m always reluctant to use them. This is definitely baby carrying territory. There are stairs that require you to be over 4 foot 8, where I barely make the cut. Weasel was desperate to go up those stairs mostly because there’s a stairgate.
Changing facilities: Amazing! Totally unexpectedly there were changing tables in both the men’s and women’s loos. They were spotless and even had stepstools and a low sink.
Verdict: A nice day out if your kid or you like steam or old buildings, or possibly cherry scones. When sunny there will be a lot more to see outside and even days when the big tower is open. Check before you go to see what’s on. After the refurb it may even be more exciting for those without extensive knowledge of high pressure cylinders and I presume it will reopen on weekdays.