22 Aug 2013

The MSI, Manchester

If you ever find yourself in or around Manchester and stuck for ideas to entertain yourself and/or the kids, look no further. Head straight to the Museum of Science and Industry,  henceforth known as the MSI. It is the perfect place for an exciting day out without having to break the bank. It is absolutely free to visit. They do request you make a small donation, but it is entirely voluntary. Even the shuttle bus (metroshuttle 2 in this case) that brings you to the MSI from Manchester is free. It surely does not get better than this!

Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester

You do not even have to be scientifically inclined to enjoy the MSI. All you need is to tap into your inner child, and you are set for a fantastic time. In addition to the permanent exhibits, they always seem to have something new going on. So there is always something different to see and do each time.

When we visited the MSI on our day out on the buses, they had a talk on the development of industry in Manchester. It was rather well done, with kids dressing up in period costume to demonstrate the development of the steam engine, and a balloon filled with glitter to help with the concept of wind power. By the end of it, everyone was covered in glitter.

Boys and their toys
Next up was the Power Hall with its huge array of working diesel, gas and oil engines. Every day they have demonstrations to show how these work. Both my boys had a field day watching all the machines at work.

There is an interactive exhibit of hydroelectric power, where you rotate a handle to fill water in a tank, which then powers a light. It is hard work though, and even M struggled to fill the water right up. J was cleverer. He just rotated the handle in the opposite direction. Much easier, but nothing happened to the light!

The Vulcan
The MSI is actually on the site of the old Liverpool Road Station, which was the original Manchester terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. This was the world's first railway to carry passengers with tickets and to run on a timetable. So no surprises that the MSI  houses a collection of magnificent railway engines. Of particular interest to me is the Vulcan locomotive, built in 1911 for the North Western Railway of India.

J and the Doodlebot
It was not all engines and machines at the MSI when we visited. We had the chance to get creative in the Create and Make Craft section. We got to make our very own Doodlebot! That's a robot that doodles. So M got scientifically creative making the Doodlebot, and J got artistically creative doing his own doodles and giving the Doodlebot a run for it's money!

When at the MSI, don't forget to hop across the street to the Air and Space hall, which is rather impressive. I am not at all knowledgeable about the different types of aircraft and cars that they have in there, but it looks magnificent. They have a small replica of the USS Enterprise, they have a rather large army helicopter, and some very shiny vintage cars.

The visit would not have been complete without a ride on the steam train. We rode behind a replica of Robert Stephenson's Planet locomotive in what were 1830s' second class carriages. It was great to see the engine driver jump off to pull some levers and manually change tracks. Although it did not last for very long, the experience was worth every penny (or a couple of pounds in this case).

The Planet
We had to give the 4D theatre a miss, as J is too little to be allowed in. We also did not get a chance to visit the upstairs exhibits as we simply ran out of time. But I have it on good authority (a friend with her tot were visiting the same day) that there is plenty to do on the upper floors as well. We will just have to come back another day for all of that, and more.

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The MSI, Manchester

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