We spent a family day here in the school summer holidays, 3 adults and two children, and all had a great time. In the exhibition we learnt about the history of the site: how the gunpowder mills were operating for over 300 years and then when that wasn’t needed so much, the development of new explosives. The grandchildren entered the air raid shelters and peered through the window of a 1940s toyshop, where they spotted a few the same as ones I still have at home!
In the Mad Lab, “Professor Nitrate” was brilliant, conducting experiments and getting children up to help her, explaining about the Fire Triangle needing heat, fuel and oxygen. There were trails and quizzes for the youngsters; night vision goggles in a special room; fingerprinting, rifle shooting; plenty of information for the adults to read about tankbusters, rocket motors and anti-aircraft missiles. So much of the work carried out here had been top-secret that my husband who had lived close by, knew nothing of the place.
We read about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot while we ate our picnic in the set-aside room and then our children joined others in making rockets which they were able to fire later. They also were given flags and a card with the semaphore alphabet on to send a message to each other. This caused great hilarity – and I was pleased to find I’d remembered much of it from my time in the Girl Guides nearly 60 years ago.
In the Armoury we admired an enormous collection of firearms and ammunition and my grandson was fascinated by the display of guns used in Bond Films. The playground was a hit as was the experiment where they fired plastic bottles having first pumped water into them.
So much to see and do there and all the people were so friendly and helpful – just seemed a shame there weren’t more visitors.