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News from The Rural Life Centre

November 2014

Don't miss the Santa Special 2014 - 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th December

The Rural Life Centre's Christmas wonderland weekends are filling up fast - make sure the children don't miss out

Santa Special Train

Children's mastery of mobile phones and computer games comes way too early for most parents, but have you noticed that the old gentleman with the white beard, wearing the red suit, and handing out traditional presents still wields his magic?

Nowhere is the magic stronger, and children's delight more obvious, than at the Rural Life Centre's Santa Specials weekends, this year taking place on 6-7 and 13-14 December.

In their magical grotto Father and Mother Christmas will give a present to each child (each one gift-wrapped by museum volunteers and appropriate to the age of child), helped by a host of fairies, gnomes and elves. Each day there will be live animals such as reindeer, sheep, donkeys and calves for children to pet.

Mums and Dads, and Grannies and Granddads will find the place as enchanting as the children, with a ride through the woods on the Old Kiln Light Railway, a visit to the elves' toy workshop and a chance to see these gentle animals at close hand. Twinkling lights, Christmas music and seasonal refreshments (included in the admission price) are guaranteed, even if the museum can't promise snow!

If you think Christmas has become far too commercialised, get along to the Rural Life Centre this December and restore your faith in this wonderful time of the year.

Santa Special tickets, at £11.50 for children and £7 for adults, are available on 01252 795571, by using a booking form or in person at the museum. Visitors are allocated a time slot to reduce the queuing, but once a booking has been made, it cannot be cancelled or changed. A mince pie and a drink are included in the price, and visitors can also enjoy lunches and snacks at the on-site cafe.

The museum itself will be closed during these festive weekends although the playground will be open.

October 2014

Don't miss the last Activity Thursday - October 30th

It seems the kids are no sooner back to school than it is autumn half term. Once again the problem looms of how to entertain them without breaking the bank. The Rural Life Centre in Tilford has the answer: their activity Thursday on the 30th will keep all ages engrossed and entertained, with a traditional Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes flavour.

"Making a Guy - Activity Thursday

The museum, which features rural buildings reconstructed on an attractive 10-acre site and fascinating exhibits of country life, is the perfect setting for the successful series of Activity Days the volunteers put on for local youngsters during the year. Participation in all the activities is free once the museum admission is paid.

As always, says Voluntary Education Officer Judy Hewins, one of the most popular activities is making a Guy and a rocket which, "with the help of our contraption" sends the children's creations high up into the sky.

Apple bobbing bears little resemblance to commercial Hallowe'en activities in 2014, but parents are pleasantly surprised at how much delight results from this old-fashioned game. The giant dolls' house and period toys fascinate the youngest children, while others tackle the pole lathe and 'milk the cow'.

Over 1000 children enjoyed the museum's Acitivity Days in 2013 - and 2014 looks set to break this record. As well as taking part in the family activities, visitors can enjoy the buildings and exhibitions on the site and bring a picnic, or enjoy the delicious offerings at the Old Kiln Café.

September 2014

Rovers return... it's Land Rover Day again at the Rural Life Centre! - October 12th

LAND ROVERS, the ultimate definition of vehicle dependability, will be on parade at the Rural Life Centre on Sunday, October 12th.

Land Rovers

Rugged, reliable and always relevant, Land Rovers have been a major presence at home and abroad since 1948 when they debuted at the Amsterdam Motor Show.

Adaptable to almost any environment, they will be flexing their muscle and horse power at the Tilford-based museum of village life, thanks to the Southern Central Vintage Agricultural Club (SCVAC), who are based at the museum and who are hosting the show.

The organisers are promising a fine line-up of vehicles, from pre-production through Series 1-111, Discovery, Range Rover and Defenders to military and 'special' examples of this iconic marque. Appropriately themed auto-jumble and a machinery sale will also feature.

The vehicles have led a colourful life - incidentally, the original choice of light green for all Land Rovers was dictated by military surplus supplies of aircraft cockpit paint in those post-war years.

Things have changed a lot since then. The one millionth Land Rover was manufactured back in 1976, and bringing the story right up to date, the new Discovery range was exhibited, amid much excitement, at the 2014 New York Motor Show

Land Rover Day, a popular fixture of the museum's annual programme, opens at 10am and continues until 5pm. The on-site cafe will be serving meals and light refreshments.

Donkeys gather at the Rural Life Centre - 7th September

The Rural Life Centre will be 'all ears' on Sunday, September 7! Donkey Day Out, organised by John and Rosemary Porter of the Donkey Breed Society, will celebrate the contribution these gentle beasts of burden have made throughout the world.

Donkey and Little Girl

Visitors will have the opportunity to see the many uses to which these animals have been put over the years, and learn about the rescue work by charities such as the Donkey Breed Society.

"The donkey is an animal of great gentleness It is very affectionate and craves human company and approval, but frequently suffers from mankind's inhumanity and even today it continues to suffer in many regions," the charity points out.

There are all sorts of stories and legends surrounding donkeys, which have been used as working animals for at least 5,000 years. Donkeys arrived in Britain with the Roman legions, and one is depicted on the historic Bayeux Tapestry pulling a plough in Sussex.

The day will feature rides, talks, demonstrations, displays, a raffle and a grand parade. The organisers say that the aim of the event is for everyone to have a relaxing time...and that includes the donkeys.

Also on Sunday, September 7th, the Farnham Beekeepers Association will be holding their Bee Show in the museum's village hall, where members will talk about various aspects of their hobby, and how it culminates in jars of delicious golden honey.

The day will also feature a tree walk through the museum's arboretum, beginning at 11am and lasting for about half an hour.

August 2014

Weyfest's great music line-up at the Rural Life Centre

The bands are booked, the banners are up - Weyfest is on its way to the Rural Life Centre, Tilford.

Guitar Lessons at Weyfest

The weekend of August 29-31 will see the museum of country life playing host to rockers young and old, enjoying acts as diverse as Jethro Tull, 10CC, The Feeling, Squeeze, Big Country and Chas & Dave. Countless more singers and musicians will be entertaining the crowds on the four stages and in the museum's old buildings - take a look at the Weyfest website www.weyfest.co.uk to see the complete line-up.

There will be food stalls and bars a-plenty with local traders and buskers and activities for children.

So popular has this festival become that last year the three-day tickets sold out well in advance of the event. Single day tickets available from £35 and weekend tickets from £95. Please note that there is no entry to the museum without a Weyfest ticket, for this weekend.

If you need a lift to the festival or can offer one, there is a CarShare page on the Weyfest website.

Family fun at the Rural Life Centre

This Sunday (August 17) sees the return of the Rural Life Centre's popular Sunday Funday and on September 7 the Donkey Breed Society returns to the Museum of country life in Tilford for Donkey Day Out. Both events are sure to absorb and entertain children of all ages.

Sunday Funday Egg and Spoon Race

Sunday Funday is a special day when children from toddlers upwards can experience the atmosphere of a fete and Sunday School picnic rolled into one.

Encouraged by the museum's enthusiastic band of volunteers, the traditional games and races are always enjoyed by the children, even in this computer and TV age, while parents and grandparents will be transported back to their own childhoods. All the day's activities are included in the price of admission to the museum.

Adults can take along a picnic or buy tasty food at the museum's café.

Find Out More

Take a Look Behind the Scenes

As there is always so much going on behind the scenes at the Rural Life Centre, we have recently added a section to the website in order to bring you updates of new exhibits, repairs, renovations and our work in progress.

Having recently been awarded Heritage Lottery Funding to move the 100 year old Frimley Green cycle Shop to the Museum, we thought that it would be a great idea to keep you to date about how the project is progressing.

Find out more


The Ford Mark II glory days recaptured in Tilford

REMEMBER the halcyon days of the 1950s and '60s when Ford Mk II Consuls, Zephyrs and Zodiacs ruled the road? Well, their glory days will be recaptured at the Rural Life Centre on Sunday, August 3 when they get a chance to show why they were such superstars.

Ford Mk II Cars

Known as the Three Graces, the MK IIs were first manufactured from 1956 to 1962 and were amongst the most popular and recognisable cars on our highways.

Popular with families and those of a more independent disposition, the Consuls, Zephyrs and Zodiacs had a panache that few of their contemporaries could match. The Mk II Independent Day will be an ideal showcase for them. These evocative vehicles still have a certain magic - they are a ready reminder of the days of rock 'n' roll.

Lovingly preserved and meticulously maintained, they will be on parade at the museum in Tilford where the owners will be explaining why these cars mean so much to them and why they are so keen to share their enthusiasm with the public. Visitors are welcome to bring along their own classic cars - there's a trophy for the best one.

The Abbotts Register will be there with a selection of vehicles converted at the company's Wrecclesham premises, and among the other groups in attendance will be the South Hants Model Club.

The rally, which has taken place at the Rural Life Centre since 2008, is organised by Beryl and John Enticknap, who have been running the Ford Mark II Independent Owners' Club for 26 years.

July 2014

2014 Rustic Sunday brings the 'olden days' to Tilford

The Rural Life Centre in Tilford is holding its biggest annual event of the year on Sunday 27 July.

Rustic Sunday Horse and Cart Rides

This festival of country life has lots to interest and entertain all ages. Children will love trying their hand at traditional crafts and riding on the steam train and there's even a dolls house big enough for little ones to go into.

There's also the popular Victorian schoolroom where they can pretend to be schoolchildren in the 'olden' days.

The beautiful 10-acre site on Reeds Road, Tilford, will be bustling with many stalls demonstrating crafts, delicious home-made food to buy, a jazz band and Morris dancers, a working steam roller as well as sheep shearing and fly casting demonstrations. The horse-drawn cart rides are always popular with the children, who also love watching the working blacksmith in the museum's smithy.

New activities for this year include a chainsaw sculptor at work and rose grafting demonstrations.

The reconstructed iron furnace and the wood yard will both be in action and Surrey beekeepers will be showing visitors how they make honey.

The museum's permanent features such as the Polish exhibition, the 1950s prefab, 1920s holiday home and WWII bunkers are all on show and the excellent café will be open for meals, or bring along your own picnic - and don't forget to enjoy a drink at the real ale bar.

Find Out More

June 2014

Rural Life Centre on the 2014 Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Longlist

It has just been announced that the Rural Life Centre has once again made the top 20 longlist for the 2014 Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award.

The next stage is decribed on their website:

"The 20 longlisted museums are presented to a panel of experts, including celebrity children’s author Damian Dibben, Game of Thrones actress Hannah Murray and historian and author Helen Castor. The panel is chaired by Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. These experts pick a shortlist, to be announced in July. This shortlist is then road-tested anonymously by families."

So we look forward to finding out the results in July, we will certainly keep you posted.



Some motoring 'ooh la la' at the Rural Life Centre

CITROENS will be bringing a dash of motor magic to the Rural Life Centre on Sunday, June 22. The French manufacturer's GS, GSA and Ami series will be on parade, along with other classic vehicles. Owners will be proudly showing off their cars, and encouraging visitors to share in their enthusiasm.

The Tilford-based museum of village life looks forward to welcoming these iconic vehicles for what has now become an annual and much anticipated event. The rally, which attracts cars from all over the UK, has been organised by Chris Salter of the Citroen Car Club.

The Citroen GS (1970-1980), a small family car, was probably the most technically advanced of its class when it was launched, and was voted European Car of the Year in 1971.

The GSA, another small family car, was launched in 1979 but production ended in 1986. Between the years of 1979 and 1983, 5,500 of them were exported to East Germany, making it one of the few Western cars in the country.

Meanwhile the Ami supermini, made its first appearance in 1961, with the last one coming off the production line in 1978. It was essentially a rebodied 2CV but with some mechanical upgrades. Its seats were easily detachable and one of the marketing ploys was to show them being used as picnic chairs. Expect to see some repeat dexterity this June at the Rural Life Centre.

The GS and the GSA may evoke French charm and character, but they were assembled in many other countries as well, including Indonesia, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia and Zimbabwe. Outside of France, the Ami was only ever assembled in Argentina.

On Sunday, June 22, these cars will assemble at the museum in Tilford, when the owners can meet fellow Citroen enthusiasts and where the public can discover what gives these classic cars such va va voom.

May 2014

All aboard! Vintage buses gather at the Rural Life Centre

ENJOY a day of passenger power when the ever-popular Bus & Coach Rally arrives at the Rural Life Centre in Tilford on Sunday May 25.

A whole range of vintage vehicles will be on parade and four of them will be taking visitors for a nostalgic ride through the local lanes.

Organised by Ray Le Mesurier-Foster and his fellow enthusiasts from the Aldershot and District Omnibuses Rescue and Restoration Society (ADORRS), this promises to be a day when a passion for the past takes a front seat. Ray is expecting some 20 old buses and coaches at the rally, as well as a few classic cars.

"A London Transport RF bus will be there and that's quite a rare vehicle now," he added. "Look out for the Isle of Wight open-top buses, too."

The society, which has 38 members, was founded in 1996 in order to rescue a couple of 1928 former Aldershot and District Dennis E buses from a field at Four Marks. It has gained in membership and momentum ever since, saving many more majestic vehicles from the scrapheap. It has a restoration base near Petersfield, but the work is also carried out elsewhere

Several of the buses and coaches on show at the Rural Life Centre will be immediately recognisable visitors of a certain age, who can remember when conductors and conductresses were in charge of 'fare play'. Who can forget their cries of "Move along, please, there's plenty of room inside" and "Hold very tight, please!", and when summertime meant a white cover on their dark coloured caps.

Comfort on the buses never seemed very important, but feeling comfortable with the past is, and we salute these dedicated restoration teams who work to keep these magnificent beasts on the road. Coaches, of course, were a little more luxurious as their journeys were longer. Works outings, trips to the seaside - the memories still have plenty of mileage.

The day will also feature free vintage bus rides to and from Farnham railway station, and there will be stalls selling memorabilia.

"One of the highlights of the day will be an exhibition of bus and coach-related paintings, and there will be plenty of souvenirs forsitors to see," Ray added.

The Old Kiln Light Railway will be operating, and the on-site cafe will be serving meals and refreshments.

The Bus and Coach Rally is a busy and indispensable part of the Rural Life Centre's season. It has become a magnet for bus spotters, but is just as attractive to families keen to let the past take them for a ride.


Double LL enthusiasts return on 17th & 18th May

A GROUP of vintage car, motorcycle and machinery enthusiasts have adjusted their goggles in readiness for a return visit to the Rural Life Centre.

It is many years since the Double LL Club held rallies at the museum, but this Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, they will fill the museum site with machinery ranging from models through to motor cars.

The exhibitors at this event will all be club members, but the public are more than welcome and the museum expects a lot of interest.

The focus of the exhibits, involving around 30 members of the LL group, will mainly be on cars and collections.

"After so many years away from the Rural Life Centre, we are really looking forward to this event," said organiser Dave Rudwick

The club has gone from strength to strength since they were formed in 1973. The double L in the club's name stands for 'local locomotion' and their remit is wide-ranging, which is one reason they remain so vibrant.

At one point the club become so popular that an original rule limiting membership to 100 was rewritten and the number increased to 200. They are mainly based in West Sussex and Hampshire and offer a wide programme of events including auto jumbles, collectors' nights, a Drive It day, skittles evenings and barbecues.

New members are always welcome; email Barry Kempster via membership@doublellclub.com

April 2014

Wooking with Wood Weekend

Anyone visiting the Rural Life Centre April 26-27 will discover why there's no other substance quite as tactile, aromatic and workable as wood!

TIMBER in all its guises will be the focus of attention at the Working With Wood weekend hosted by Tilford's Rural Life Centre on 26-27 April.

The winter storms have provided more than enough material for the Woodies, the museum's woodyard specialists, who will be demonstrating the exciting and strenuous process that leads from tree to finished product. Members of the team played a crucial role in tidying up the damage caused to the museum's trees by the storms

The woodyard, in its clearing among lofty larches, becomes a hive of activity and endeavour, where great logs are transformed before visitors' eyes..

In other areas of the museum will be craftspeople who work with wood, as well as colleagues from the Camberley-based Surrey Association of Woodturners. The emphasis will be on doing things the traditional way, when the tools of the time involved hard work! The Godalming-based Waverley Dowsers will also be on hand to demonstrate their art.

The weekend is being organised by Helen Porter of the Rural Life Centre. It will feature a guided walk through the museum's arboretum at 2.30pm on the Sunday, led by Ken Gore, who worked with venue's co-founder Henry Jackson at Tilhill forestry nurseries.

An added attraction on the Sunday will be an informal gathering of collectors' vehicles in support of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs Drive It Day. The Federation encourages owners of all historic vehicles to take to the road on this date and drive or ride them.

Clearing up after the storms

We all saw some pretty wild, wet and windy weather this winter and the Rural Life Centre lost around 30 trees in the gales.

This resulted in parts of the woodland walk being closed for safety but our woodyard volunteers finally managed to remove the dangerous trees at the beginning of April and the museum is now fully open again.

Take a look at the final clear up operation carried out by our trusty team of volunteers.


March 2014

Treat the family to some old-fashioned fun this Easter

Whether the forecast for Easter is 'changeable' (weatherman-speak for wet!) or warm and sunny, parents are going to be looking for fun, seasonal activities they can enjoy with the children. A great place to come is the Rural Life Centre in Tilford which is packing three days of traditional fun for all ages into the Easter weekend.

On Saturday 19 April the museum's buildings and pond will be hissing, chuffing and puffing to the rhythm of steam-driven toys of yesteryear. Says organiser Peter Tegg: "Anyone bringing and demonstrating working steam toys on Saturday will get in free. Many exhibits will be running on live steam and this is the whole family's chance to enjoy the sights, sounds and evocative smells.

"It's an event that appeals to old and young alike; it reminds dads and granddads of their own childhood when they may have played with similar toys, and will fascinate youngsters who may never have seen steam toys in action."

"Many of these historic steam toys will be stationary engines, but steam-powered road vehicles and trains will be also be on display, and toy steam boats will even be running on the pond."

Look out for famous names of the day such as Bowman, Bing, Falk, Jensen, Marklin, Mamod, Plank, Stuart Turner and Wilesco. A Bowman O gauge railway will be running as an outdoor display and, of course, the museum's resident Old Kiln Light Railway will be in operation.

The hugely popular Activity Thursdays for children are back at the museum during the Easter holidays when museum admission gives children the opportunity to enjoy all sorts of free activities.

Meet the Home Guard Warden with his stirrup pump. Find out about quilling, wood turning or even old-fashion clothes washing with a mangle! There will be a wheelwright's session and period toys to play with. "Perhaps the greatest fun of all," says organiser Judy Hewins mysteriously, "is the very popular rocket launching!"

On Easter Sunday and Monday visitors can join in with the Easter Chick Hunt, with prizes for the winners who find the chicks hidden among the museum's displays. On the Monday afternoon there is an Easter Bonnet Parade. Come with a hat you've made, or a design to make when you arrive. The museum supplies the materials. You can bring a picnic or enjoy a special lunch at the café.

Feburary 2014

There is plenty to enjoy this coming year at the Rural Life Centre

Volunteers have spent a wet and windy few months preparing the Rural Life Centre for its 2014 opening on 5 March. Despite a setback or two thanks to the storms, the countryside museum in Tilford is unwrapping a packed season of events.

Rag Rugging

Kicking off the season is the Vanishing Skills Craft Taster Day on Saturday 8 March when admission to the museum (still kept at last year's prices) will be free. Visitors will be encouraged to try their hand at crafts such as basket-making and rag rugging with a view to perhaps joining a workshop later in the summer.

Easter Sunday isn't until 20 April this year, so plenty of time for the weather to warm up for family activities and competitions.

The exhibition programme starts in March with 'Troops, Tobacco and Tractors' showing the varied history of Fleet and Crookham. Visitors will see how the Army, agricultural machinery and smoking all played their part in this community's history.

Following on in May, and coinciding with the museum's hugely popular Village at War weekend (10-11 May), is 'War comes to Tilford & Frensham', an exhibition examining how the opening of hostilities in 1914 affected the rural landscape - a must-see for local people interested the Great War in this 100th anniversary year.

A second exhibition starting 2 August and running through to November will be 'The Debt owed...' to animals during WW1. Animals served alongside humans, often in surprising roles, as revealed by this exhibition.

May is a busy month at the RLC. On 24 May folk singer John Kirkpatrick returns by popular demand and the first of two new transport weekends 17-18 May is the LL Club Gathering. This local group will be showing off machinery from models to motor vehicles.

On 25 May buses and coaches converge on the 10-acre site, followed by a weekend of transport and machinery form a bygone age including steam engines, crafts and animals. 'Fire Engines on Show' (12-13 July) is another new event, this time featuring historic appliances from 'manuals' to 1980s motorised machines.

All the museum's regular events such as Polish Day, Rustic Sunday, Tractor and Engine rally and Weyfest will be back and details are available on the Events page. You can also get a copy of the 2014 diary from Farnham Council offices and tourist information centres.

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