Step Back in Time in the North West

Step Back in Time in the North West

003394ae826129b77af715883860d402.jpgThis year we will be remembering the past as we celebrate VE Day - 75 years since the end of WWII. You don't need a time machine to travel back in time.  Get hands on with history at heaps of local north west attractions where the past comes to life before your eyes...

Ancient Egyptians (3000 BC - 650 AD):

Bolton Museum has one of the UK’s largest spaces devoted to Ancient Egypt where you can explore the daily lives of the Egyptians and experience our full-size immersive replica of the tomb of Pharaoh, Thutmose III. To find out more about our venues visit

Bronze Age (2100 BC-650BC):

Crowning a rocky crag and boasting spectacular views, Beeston is one of the most dramatically sited medieval castles in England. On a clear day you can see all the way from the Pennines to the Welsh mountains. With a 4,000 year history and a 40-acre woodland park, Beeston Castle has something for everyone to enjoy.

The Tudors (1485-1603):

Visit Smithills Hall, Bolton where you can discover the history of George Marsh, protestant preacher who burned at the stake because of his faith. Take a closer look at decorations from the Tudor time. To find out more visit

Visit Ordsall Hall, a FREE to visit Grade 1 listed Tudor manor house with a list of noble residents through its history, even several ghosts! This family friendly museum boasts interactive room settings, a 3d0ae150a6a6a94dff62a768fd75ff61.jpgcafé, and beautiful gardens to explore. Dress up as a Tudor, try on some chainmail, discover some of the foods that would have been cooked at the Hall in the 1500s and pretend you are having a feast around the table in our Great Hall. We have lots of events throughout the year – from quizzes in the school holidays to Shakespeare in the gardens. /

Once the heart of the estate, Tatton Park's Medieval Old Hall survives as its oldest building, and a guided tour takes you on an evocative journey through its history as a dwelling place - from manor house to humble cottages. Children are able to experience what life was like in settlements of the past, during school visits and school holiday events.


Victorians (1837-1901):

The North of England once produced over half the world's output of textiles - cotton and wool.   The machinery in  the mills were powered by mighty steam engines, and the volunteers at Bolton Steam Museum have rescued and restored 30 of them. Their oldest engine is 180 years old, and most are over 100 years old. They can be seen running in steam on regular steaming days - usually Bank Holiday Weekends - in 2020. More details here:

The John Rylands Library was created over 100 years ago.‌ With breath-taking architecture and spectacular stonework (including the original Victorian toilets which are still in use), this Neo-gothic masterpiece edd9c9aed8041842a3c25cd223782a66.jpgis well worth a visit. Family friendly activities are held regularly including ‘Detective Grumbold Dragon and the case of the missing spectacles', available all year round. Pick up a free family-friendly trail, and explore the Library at your own pace, looking for Grumbold's specs.

At Smithills Hall, Bolton, find out what it is like to be a Victorian servant and investigate the different lifestyles of the Ainsworth family and their staff. To find out more visit

Salford Museum & Art Gallery presents an exciting programme of permanent displays and changing contemporary exhibitions and is home to an atmospheric re-creation of a typical northern street during Victorian times. Visitors can explore the street and dress up in traditional Victorian costumes to really get in the spirit of things! There are regular events, activities and workshops giving families the opportunity to be inspired by our exhibitions and displays plus an onsite café.

Come experience the sights, sounds and smells of working life in the mills – from the Victorians and beyond. Helmshore Mills Textile Museum offers an immersive visit with amazing working historic machinery and tales of how it would have been for the workers running them. Opens for the season on 3 April. 

Come and step back in crime and discover Manchester’s policing past at Greater Manchester Police Museum. Explore our Victorian cells and courtroom. Open 10:30-3:30 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during school holidays. For more information please visit

c3c82df51db47e3fde8996e755d4f0ce.jpgAt the Science and Industry Museum, find out what it was like to live and work in Victorian Manchester where the cotton industry made the city world famous. See original cotton spinning machinery working and hear from our Explainers about life in the mills 150 years ago. Then take a trip to the 1830 station – the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station - and discover the story of early rail journeys.

Explore the home of the Egerton family and the stories of those who lived ‘below stairs’ at Tatton Park’s mansion House. Discover the Mansion’s treasures, including furniture, paintings and artefacts, which give us an insight into the tastes and interests of the former inhabitants. Children are able to experience what life was like for the housekeeping team and try their hand at some of the gruelling domestic tasks.


Edwardians (1901-1910):

Starting in February half term, Dunham Massey National Trust’s servants’ area will be transformed into an immersive 20th century living history experience. Travel back to 1909 and get hands-on with traditional tasks and meet historic characters. Help the servants wash the laundry, prepare meals and see where they sleep There might even be a job in it for you… (15th February to 20th March 2020).  ​​​​ 

Tatton Park’s beautiful Gardens are almost a complete picture of how it would have been in Edwardian times. Explore the Walled Kitchen Garden, Japanese Garden, 947d6360250e244f3fa087b22d691f34.jpgGlasshouses and Pleasure Gardens and more; all set in 50 acres of award winning, landscaped grounds. Children can step back in time to learn about the care of the gardens during Victorian times, or instead focus on the incredible plants, flowers and insects who inhabit the grounds.

World Wars (1914-1918 & 1939-45):

This year we will be remembering the past as we celebrate VE Day - 75 years since the end of WWII, from 8-10th May. Visit to find out more about events local to you.

Follow the fascinating story of the Lancashire Fusiliers in the First and Second World Wars at The Fusilier Museum, Bury. Visit the medal room and see Victoria Cross medals for yourself as well as experience the sights and smells of the First World War in a German trench. Get more information here:

During school holidays meet costumed First World War character, Tommy Atkins, and handle kit and equipment used down in the trenches at Portland Basin Museum.  Entry to Portland Basin Museum is free and the venue also features an indoor play area where children can play shop, dress up in fancy costumes and get behind the wheel of a pretend train.    

20th Century (1901-2000):

Visit the birthplace of co-operation at Rochdale Pioneers Museum. Learn about how co-ops are fighting climate change in the 'Footprints' exhibition (on until Oct 2020) to celebrate Dippy the Dinosaur's arrival b50c0430c23810e424c313dda2a2fd72.jpgin Rochdale. Be sure to say hello to Cooper the Bear and make your own co-op stamps. More info here: 

Explore the collection of past and present, commercial vehicles at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum. Learn about the people behind the vehicles, the places they were built and hear the stories from our guides. There is more information here: /

Step back in time on Portland Basin Museum’s recreated old street and discover how people lived back in the 1920s.  You can explore Tameside’s industrial past and find out what it was like to work in one of the area’s cotton mills or down a coal mine. Interact with the exhibits around the museum while following a selection of trails designed for all ages. 

Did you know Manchester was a centre for early computing? Built in 1948, the Small-Scale Experimental Machine – nicknamed the Manchester Baby – was the first stored program computer and a great grandad of the tech we have now. At the Science and Industry Museum, you can see a working replica and see just how far computers have come since then.

Find yourself in a world where you meet the people, workers and campaigners who championed the ideas that have given us the freedoms, rights and equality that we enjoy today.  Colourful banners, immersive experiences, Busy Bee explorer packs and hands on exhibits all help to bring their inspiring stories to life at People’s History cb7c32b1319c9d1567a6ebf7efbfe3fb.jpgMuseum, the national museum of democracy. 

Set in the 1940’s, the Farm at Tatton Park offers a gateway to the past, brought to life by the experiences of those who lived and worked there. This is a unique opportunity to explore the journey of food production from field to fork, on a working Farm with operational historic, agricultural machinery. Children are able to find out where food comes from, learn about the life cycle of the animals or even experience what life was like for evacuees during World War Two.

The Runway Visitor Park is a unique visitor attraction overlooking Manchester Airport’s two runways. From its elevated viewing spot, the park enables aviation enthusiasts to watch the take off and landings of the hundreds of daily flights at the airport.  Tours and other events can be booked online at


We're lucky that we have such a wealth of fascinating locations on our doorstep to learn about the rich heritage of our country.  We will be updating this feature regularly so be sure to check back often for more great stuff! 

Jayne Deakin

Jayne Deakin

Editor of Raring2go! in Bury and Bolton areas, Jayne is keen to make sure you hear it here first by sharing local news and ideas for great things happening on your doorstep.

Other items you may like