Friday, 1 August 2014

Armley Mills

This past Tuesday (29th July) Paul and I went to Leeds Industrial Museum. The museum is located on the grounds of the old Armley Mills in Leeds. Armley Mills, for those who may be interested, was once the world's largest woollen mill. Exhibits cover 3 floors, in addition to outside areas. Admission is £3.60 for adults, £1.80 for children over 5, £2.90 for concession tickets (students and OAPs), and £7.60 for families. Saying this, Paul and I got in for free as he's disabled/special needs and I'm his carer. It might be worthwhile to bring a letter from the DWP to prove that your child is in receipt of DLA, if this applies to you as well.

When we first walked into the museum, I was concerned that it looked quite small. As I said before though, the museum is larger than it looks and there's quite a bit to see and do there. You enter the museum via the gift shop. To your right is the café which serves biscuits and hot drinks, to your left is the museum proper. The gift shop is well worth looking around. There are several items there from toys to books to mugs and tea towels. All of which are high quality and would make wonderful souvenirs. Paul chose a model train which makes train noises. It's just the right size for his wooden train tracks.

The first room you enter after the gift shop has several exhibits as well as a few activities. Paul really enjoyed playing with the train tracks.

Further into the museum is a small playhouse which is made completely of material knitted by the public. I thought it was pretty neat; Paul didn't seem too impressed by it, though he did go inside and sat down for a minute.

A few of the more hands on activities consisted of a faux phone operator's control panel and some optical illusions. Paul listened to one of the operator recordings, but they didn't hold his interest. He did love the optical illusions however. He loves spinning things, so that's what he started doing. After I showed him how to see the pictures "move", his response was "Wow. That's cool".

Armley Mills also has a working replica of a 1920's cinema. You can sit down and watch a short film clip from that era. Most kids aren't going to be impressed by this, unless they're history buffs. Paul just wanted to completely bypass the whole thing, but I convinced him to sit down long enough for a photo. You can probably tell he was just humouring me at this stage!

Paul's favourite exhibits of the museum by far were the trains. They had several restored engines inside and several more outside. Paul really enjoyed looking at them all. He was a bit disappointed that he couldn't ride on any of them, but that didn't stop him from walking along the short length of disused track and making train noises!

If you visit the museum, you'll want to bring a picnic lunch (or get takeaway from the nearby Pizza Hut) in order to take advantage of the beautiful outdoor picnic area.

Overall, the museum is quite nice. Whilst it might not hold the interest of really young children, there are enough hands on activities to keep slightly older children occupied. Paul certainly seemed to enjoy the outing and we spent just over an hour walking around looking at things. If you do the activities, read the exhibit signs, and watch the film, it will probably take upwards of two to three hours to get all the way through the building.

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