Sophie is obsessed with road transport vehicles at the moment, particularly cars. Based on this, and as part of our ‘Wheels on the Bus’ themed activities post on my blog, we decided to take Sophie to the Coventry Transport Museum.
The museum is in the city centre and has the world’s largest collection of British road transport. The museum has recently had a £9.5 million redevelopment with 12 new galleries to look at, each with lots of things to do. It has over 230 cars, 250 cycles and 100 motorbikes – this was going to keep Sophie occupied!
We went on a weekday so it was fairly quiet. Entrance was free & the staff were very friendly & helpful.
The museum is set out in such a way that, as you are walking through the exhibits you are actually taking a trip through time! Starting with the very earliest form of transport – cycles – going all the way to present day land speed holders. We saw a really wide range of vehicles from the Penny Farthing through to a model of the new Bloodhound supersonic car – the real one is attempting to break the land-speed record again soon.
Our favourite exhibits:
We loved looking at the old sportscars as well as the ordinary cars from the 50s & 60s such as the Hilman Imp – mum was off down memory lane & Sophie was off wanting to get in them all!!!
Luckily there were lots of things for Sophie to do including getting in & out of a black taxi cab (this went on for about half an hour!). Lots of the other hands-on activities included pressing buttons (always a toddler favourite), putting together car parts (like a jigsaw) to design a car & winding handles in a transport race game. Sophie loved them all!
We all really liked the old garage replica with the tools, petrol pump etc. Sophie also loved the ramp footway next to it & had great fun zooming up & down!
The World War II exhibition was fascinating. Sophie was less keen because of the noisy sound effects, although there was an alternative route we could have taken if she had got too worried.
It was quite dark as we walked through with model air raid shelters & wardens nearby. Coventry & its people suffered dreadfully through the ‘Blitz’ & the various displays gave a small taster of what it must have been like.
Sophie loved the red fire engine just outside the start of the WWII exhibition & took a lot of persuasion to move on. At the other end there was an activity to try to decipher friendly or enemy planes as the silhouettes flew across a screen on the ceiling.
All of us were intrigued by the selection of motorbikes – old & more modern. The Triumph T140 Bonneville (pictured) was a star piece in the museum, made in 1977 in celebration of The Queens’ Silver Jubilee.
Further into the museum we discovered buses & tractors – the latter were Massey Fergusons’ which used to be made in Coventry. Also in this section Sophie discovered some children’s rides. Having free entry, we didn’t object to the £1 it cost for the train ride!
At the end of the museum there is an opportunity to have a go in the 4D Land Speed Record Simulator which does have to be paid for. We didn’t try this as there are height & other restrictions, but it does sound like great fun.
If you can accept the fact that you can’t get in or on almost all of the exhibits – more a problem for wannabee adult racers – it’s a great place to visit. We were concerned there wouldn’t be much for a toddler to do, but in fact Sophie was kept busy the whole of the time. There were brilliant vehicles well displayed, child friendly interactive games, toddler sized rides & a shop.
We would certainly recommend it for a half day visit for little ones & longer for older children who are keen to understand the facts & details of the displays. The café by the entrance is family friendly & had some rather nice cakes when we were there. Apparently the Coventry Godcake, a fruity triangular pastry baked to a 200-year-old recipe, is served there. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot this so missed out!!!
Location : Millennium Place, Hales Street, Coventry CV1 1JD
Opening hours : 10am to 5pm – last admission 4.30 p.m. Open every day of the year except 24 – 26 December and 1 January.
Admission : Free to the museum. Payment is required to try the 4D Land Speed Record Simulator – see website for latest prices.
Facilities : Food & drinks, including children’s meals, are served in Esquires Coffee Shop. Accessible toilets are on both floors of the museum, two baby changing areas, a small buggy park near reception and family lockers.
Car Parking: Try local car parks – the nearest are Bishop Street & Belgrade Plaza. There is no specific museum car park.
About The Author: Lauren is a teacher and mum to her toddler Sophie. Lauren loves creating imaginative sensory play for Sophie in her living room essentially turning it into a nursery. This was the inspiration for her blog’s name Sophie’s Nursery.