*We were invited to visit IWM Duxford by IWM. All words and opinions are my own. We were compensated for our time.
Getting out and about at weekends and during the school holidays to see new parts of the UK is something that we love to do as a family. As someone who has never been to Cambridgeshire before, it was great that we were invited to discover IWM Duxford this past weekend, which is about ten miles south of Cambridge itself. Is it somewhere that you have ever heard of before? If you haven’t, then I am going to share all about our day there, and why you should make a visit too.
It is based on a historic airfield, and is one of a few museums that have a focus on wars and conflict from the First World War until now, with Duxford having a big focus on transport and aircraft used. In fact, being based on the airfield, it is a working museum, in that the airfield is still in use. So you can see small planes taking off and landing which is really special. My children haven’t seen planes that small taking off before, so you really can just sit back for a while and watch them do their thing. Any plane-mad children would love it, so it could be a good idea to take a picnic and enjoy the day.
Interactivity for Children
I really liked how interactive the whole of the museum is for children, as well as adults. I sometimes wonder if it is going to be a good idea to take children to ‘museums’ but this one works well for children. There are eight different hangars to discover, all packed to the brim with different things to see and experience. What is on offer in each hangar does vary, but there are things like videos about the first planes made to being able to go onto Concorde, and listening to different recordings and conversations on phones. Plus, if there is ever anything to push or press, my children really enjoy it.
I liked that these interactive things kept their attention enough so that there was time for my husband and I to read all about the displays, and then we could tell them all about it. In one of the hangars, the Land Warfare exhibit, where there is a focus on the First and Second World Wars, there are even things like helmets to try on and a (replica) grenade to hold, to see what they all felt like. Max decided that he definitely wouldn’t have liked wearing the soldier’s big metal helmets! It gets a big thumbs up from me with all of the displays and interactive things that it has.
Another great thing that we were able to experience was a tour of The Lancaster. At set times throughout the day you can have a tour with a museum expert and learn all about this iconic plane. It involved a talk outside the aircraft, which was very detailed and engaging, with the chance to see inside the plane too. Because of the design of the plane, space is quite limited, so this was done in groups. We all quite liked this ‘exclusive’ aspect to the tour, and the guide was great to point out different things to the children so that it kept their interest.
My two did really well, and I think the guide did a great job at keeping their interest, as well as catering the talk to the adults. If you have toddlers or children younger than mine (7 and 5), then the talk aspect of the tour might be a bit too long for them. It is worth doing; they may just need a distraction or toy. One point to note is that you do need to book ahead for this kind of tour, which can be done here.
American Air Museum
One of our favourite hangars to visit was hangar seven, the American Air Museum. It showcases modern aircraft and displays showing more recent conflicts and details about it all. I was amazed to see part of the steel structure from one of the World Trade Centers, from the September 11th terror attack. It was crazy to see the impact that the attack had on the structure of the building, and we could start to talk to our children about that. If you have older children or teenagers, then it is likely to be something that they would have heard of already.
Full Day Out and Value for Money
We all really enjoyed our day at Duxford, there really is so much to see! The airfield itself is vast, and with the planes that you can watch, as well as cafes, a restaurant, and a playground for children, there is a lot to fill your day. Whilst they do have the permanent displays that we saw, there are different exhibitions and displays on different days and times throughout the year, as well as other education events. So for children, there will always be something going on which is great. It is so important that we learn from these conflicts and the impact that they have on use today.
We arrived at 11am on a Saturday and left just before closing. It is a great way to spend time, and in terms of entrance fee, you definitely get your money’s worth as you can spend a long time there.
You can visit IWM Duxford site here for more information on what you can see there and how to plan your family visit.
Address: IWM Duxford, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, CB22 4QR (really easy to find, straight off the motorway)