As you all know we’re big fans of transport here and do love our aeroplanes! Monkey and I were spending a few days in Cambridge last week and decided we really should explore IWM Duxford whilst we were so close.
IWM Duxford is about a 20 minute drive from Cambridge city centre and stretches over an area of a mile with both indoor and outdoor exhibits. We were guests of the site for the day so parked away from the main car park – I could see though, that were was plenty of parking available, all free too.
We arrived on a lovely sunny Tuesday so decided to explore the outdoor exhibits first. Unfortunately we couldn’t see inside any of the airliners on our visit, I’m not sure if they are only open at weekends but it was a bit of a shame. Each plane has an information board which is useful, especially when visiting with children.
It was interesting to see the Bristol Type 175 Britannia 312 in the Monarch livery, my son was amused as we use the same airline to fly to see his grandparents.
As we walked along the display we realised that there were some smaller planes taking off from the grass beside us, these continued all day, and added that extra bit of entertainment as we watched them whizz around the sky above us.
You can’t help but notice the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber as you walk past the row of civil aviation planes. It’s huge. The American Air Museum is currently closed until Spring 2016, and the various aircraft have been re-housed across the IWM Duxford site. Although I have to say I prefer the B-17 Flying Fortress, Sally B personally.
As well as the outside displays there are 7 very different internal exhibition spaces with lots of displays (8 once the American Air Museum reopens). You really can’t fail to be impressed by the amount of aircraft on display. IWM Duxford is somewhere that will keep children entertained as well as aviation enthusiasts.
The whole site is well signed and I was impressed with the abundance of toilet facilities –
The Land Warfare exhibition was an unexpected treat. Housed at the far end of IWM Duxford and a must for tank enthusiasts. I would have liked to wander around the exhibits more thoroughly but something spooked my son as we entered and sadly he wasn’t keen to spend much time inside. The exhibition charts land warfare from 1914 and ends with the Normandy landings.
The 1940 Operation Room was fascinating, with the sound recording playing in the background you really get a feel for what life was like during an incoming German air raid.
For us it was also a great follow on from our trip to Dover Castle and the underground WWII tour we visited.
We got to see planes currently under restoration in the Conservation in Action hangar, we both really enjoyed the Battle of Britain display and the crashed Messerschmitt, complete with bent propellers fascinated my 5 year old. We saw planes, helicopters and even lifeboats in the Air and Sea display too.
The Historic Duxford exhibition is also well worth a visit, there are a number of interactive displays as you walk through the lives of the people who worked at IWM Duxford over the years.
The whole site is very walkable, it’s flat and there’s plenty of space for families with prams and strollers to access all areas. There are a couple of eateries offering hot and cold food with children’s portions and there was even an ice cream van when we visited. Should you bring a picnic there are a number of picnic tables and wooden benches dotted around the site, so everyone is well catered for. There’s even a play ground to keep the youngsters amused.
The AirSpace exhibition area is the first section you come to when you arrive and it’s fab, especially for children. There are lots of interactive displays where children can learn all about aviation and how various parts of the plane works. As well as the static displays on the ground floor (including a Vulcan, Concorde and a Lancaster bomber) there are a number of aircraft suspended from the ceiling. This was another big hit with my son. He got to go on his second Concorde, this boy is so well-travelled!
I was really impressed with IWM Duxford and I can thoroughly recommend it as a great family day out. For opening times, prices and direction please pop over to the website. I know we’ll be returning as Daddy P missed out on our trip.
disclaimer: we were given free entry into IWM Duxford in exchange for an honest review