“Put that light out!” Britain in the Blitz is just one of the aspects of World War Two that is explored at the Eden Camp Museum. A visit to this multi-award winning attraction makes a fascinating and educational day out. It is situated in an original Prisoner of War Camp, and once you enter the gates you will immediately be whisked back in time. Sights, sounds and smells of wartime Britain combine to make the experience unforgettable.
The camp was set up in 1942, and built to house Italian and German prisoners of war, who had been captured in Europe and Africa. Post-war, the site went through the hands of various owners, until a local businessman, Stan Johnson, bought it and decided to turn it into a permanent museum as a tribute “to all people, civilian and military, who endured hardship throughout World War Two”.
As you wander through the camp, you will find scenes and tableaux set up to recreate both the Home from and Front line. The Blitz, rationing, Evacuation, the Home Front, the Battle of Britain and VE and VJ Day are the first scenes you will visit. Each topic is housed in an original camp building, which is unchanged since the time it was built. This unique setting adds to the authenticity of the museum, and underlines the stark times wartime British faced during that period. It can be quite and eye-opener for children.
Following these exhibitions, you will come to the battle exhibits, which cover conflicts during both World War One and Two, and also conflicts following both the world wars. You will find a huge collection of military equipment – tanks, aircraft, artillery, and mini submarines. These rare items have been preserved in their original condition. You can climb into an air raid shelter, and walk around a prefab house. You will find signs and advertisements from the era, a Dig for Victory garden, air raid wardens, gas masks, Hitler Youth uniforms, and a 1940’s house tableau, local shop displays and period newspapers – anything war related you can think of is here. It is an astonishing achievement for a local museum.
There are refreshments available in the Prisoner’s Canteen, and Officers’ Mess, both of which provide hot food and drinks. You can also visit the Garrison Cinema Bar for a pint of locally brewed Eden Camp Bitter or “Tunnel Buster Strong Ale”. Plenty of picnic areas are provided for those who like to bring their own food. The attraction is very popular with children, and a play area has been provided, with assault course type equipment as well as things for smaller children to play on. There is a puppet show which runs throughout the day, depicting Old Time Music Hall. 1940’s characters are puppets who encourage you to join in with a “We’ll Meet Again”.
If you have half a day to fill, you will certainly not be disappointed with this attraction. It is good value for money, professionally executed, and very wide-ranging. Look out for special events throughout the year, such as WWII Re-enactment days, 40’s weekends, and car rallys.
Open every day from 10 am to 5pm (closed for a fortnight at Christmas)
Last Admission is at 16.00
Credit and debit cards are not accepted
The Eden Camp Museum is winner of the English and Yorkshire Tourist Boards Attraction of the Year Awards.