Silverstone Museum is a great choice for a rainy day and of course for anyone who absolutely loves cars, motorbikes, racing, history and science. My youngest went recently for a school trip and has been going on about it ever since so we decided it would be a great idea for a family day out.
My boys love cars but me … not so much, so I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed it too. It’s a really high quality museum and totally child friendly with lots of hands on exhibits throughout.
Rather than just ambling into the first room you come too like most museums, Silverstone Museum build the anticipation and excitement. We stepped into a long tunnel like room with screens lining both sides. Travelling back through time with the roar of engines, it’s a great way to start your experience.
Silverstone had originally been an RAF base and there’s some great history around the second world war. During WW2 there were a limited number of aircraft available for training. Link trainers were used to perfect pilots’ flying skills on the ground and you can have a go too. This was at the start of the exhibition and I thought we might end up staying in this section all day! If you’re interested in WW2 history, Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes is a great day out too.
Turret training was very hands on too. The Wellington’s gunners defend their aircraft against enemy attack. Gunners training was in Building 116 and a machine gun was set up facing a curved screen, simulating the view from the rear turret of an aircraft. We tried out the turret training to release propaganda leaflets below. There were interesting information boards and it was a great way to bring history to life.
As you transition from the RAF history through to the first racing at Silverstone, there’s a great little area for kids with games and while we visited they had a special STEM activity running as well.
As we travelled through time, it was really exciting to get to the heart of Silverstone with iconic racing cars and motorbikes. We had the chance to sit in an old race car before we headed down to the main showroom packed full with amazing variety.
Budding engineers will really enjoy the tech lab. This is your chance to find out out the science behind racing and just like the rest of the museum it’s wonderfully hands on for kids (and grown ups too). Your job is to design a winning race car or motorcycle. It needs to stick like glue on the turns, fly along straights and perform reliably lap after lap.
You start by developing the individual components and then put them all together to see what your racing machine can do. My boys were very competitive choosing the different elements and then clicking ‘go’ to see what happened on the screen.
A big highlight for my 10 and 12 year old was the racing car simulator (booked as an extra). It goes way beyond any computer game, with the chair & steering wheel juddering if they came off the track and a great immersive experience.
We also had a lunch at the cafe which had child friendly and more interesting options and all great quality. It was chucking it down with rain and very windy when we visited so I have to confess that we didn’t make it outside for a walk around the track but we’ll definitely be back.
Your visit really does take you on a journey through the past, present and future of Silverstone and British motor racing. A definite thumbs up all round for a family day out.