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News from The Rural Life Centre


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2017 News


March 1st : Summer Opening

Summer Opening

The Museum has enjoyed a Winter Rest with reduced opening time, but now things are back to normal.

We hope to welcome YOU to one of our Events for this year and to see you regularly throughout 2017. Remember that annual passes are available at very competitive prices, should you wish to visit more than once.


April 6th : Activity Thursday

Activity Thursday

The first Activity Thursday of 2017.

What an amazingly good day! The sun shone brightly and the sky was blue all day.

Normally the first Activity Thursday of the year is not so well attended, since only one of the local schools has begun the Easter Holiday - but this time we were amazed by the quantity of children and their parents who came along to join in with all the many events put on specially for them!
All the normal attractions were there, and although Daisy the Cow didn't have her 'voice' this time, everything was very popular.

The next Activity Thursday is just a week away, on 13th April. Come along and enjoy it!

April 9th : Vintage Tractor Road Run

Tractor Road Run

The Spring Vintage Tractor Road Run was held today (9th April) by the CSVAC (Central Southern Vintage Agricultural Club) on a beautifully sunny day.

Vistors to the Museum saw the impressive collection of vintage tractors and could chat to the owners.
The roads around the area were filled with the sight and sound of many tractors travelling around their set route, before they returned to the museum to finish the journey.

Of course, all the normal museum attractions were open and visitors could enjoy these too!

April 13th : Activity Thursday

Activity Thursday

This is the second of the two Activity Thursdays for children that Ian arranged for the Easter holiday. We were fortunate that the day turned out to be warm and sunny - this no doubt contributed to the record turn out of children and their guardians arriving to enjoy the day.
When we first started Activity Thursdays back in 2013 we had 47 attend our Easter events - this year we saw 127 and hope that this total will continue to rise as ever more children come to enjoy the day.

All our most popular activities including: build and fire a rocket, pole lathe turning, plaster casting, Victorian school class, Victorian wash day and more were available, together with some new activities. One of our volunteers had made a woven wood partition for the children to experiment with the ancient craft of wattle and daub walling. The clay was suitably messy but fortunately without the usual cow dung added to the mix!

Children were introduced to ways of decorating eggs, very appropriate for Easter. One method was to bind flowers to the egg shell and then hard boil them in a solution of onion skins to produce beautiful patterns on the shell; this was very popular on the day.

At the end of the day many parents had difficulty persuading their children to leave the play ground to go home for tea! It was encouraging to hear so many parents and children say how much they had enjoyed the day - for many it was their first visit and they said they will return.
Our next Activity Thursday is during the Spring half term, on 1st June. Come along and join in!


May 6th & 7th : Village at War

Village at War

Once again the museum has been turned into a battlefield 'somewhere in England' during the Second World War.
Everything that can be done is done. Winston Churchill is there to ensure that his troops do all the right things, but fortunately they are perfectly disciplined and know exactly what to do.

The Police Station is manned and the policemen and ARP Wardens are looking after the wellbeing of the public, ensuring that everyone is aware of air raids. When enemy planes arrive, the air-raid sirens are sounded and everyone directed to shelters where they will be safe, as the bombs drop and anti-aircraft guns are fired.
Even the visitors to the museum have to shelter during air raids, but there are plenty of shelters available, which double as viewing space and tea-rooms at the rest of the time.

While the troops are marching to defend the countryside, some buildings are used by NAAFI staff to ensure that no-one lacks the essential foodstuffs and cups of tea, while the Village Hall is set up as a Plotting Centre, staffed by enthusiasts under the watchful eye of their superiors, tracking the movements of friend and foe.

As the days of war draw to a close, the re-enactors remove their temporary changes to the buildings, close down their tents and temporary exhibits, pack up their guns and tin mugs, put away the mortars and bombs, tidy away the mobile exhibits they have brought and return to life as we know it today.
After over 70 years, we are helped by the re-enactors to look back at the events of WW2 and recall for ourselves the terrible conditions in which our soldiers served us. Few amongst us were old enough to remember first-hand the hardships and deprivations, loss of loved ones and destruction and fear of the last War - many of the Rustics were children during WW2 and will recall some of the horrors of war and the relief that followed the announcement that, at long last, hostilities have ended.


June 3rd & 4th : Tractor & Machinery Rally

Tractor and Machinery Rally

The CSVAC held their Tractor and Machinery Rally at the RLC, with very impressive displays of tractors and engines. We were treated to a very polished (literally) display of air-cooled and water-cooled stationary engines running calmly as they pumped water and drove generators, looking as if they could carry on doing it for years.

Many of the tractors of yesterday were on show, reminding us of how these mechanical horses evolved into the functional farm machines of today. Side by side we could see the broad spectrum of these powerful machines and get a better appreciation of how and why they displaced animals and became the work-horses of our farms


July 2nd : Polish Day

Polish Day at the RLC

Once again we hosted the Polish Day, celebrating the entire Community and with a special bias towards our own Polish Building, with Weis Rogalski describing the Wartime conditions through which he lived and the work he has done since to preserve that knowledge for us all.

This year the museum was full of people of all ages, celebrating their Polish ancestry and enjoying the sounds and food of Poland. Coaches brought children from Polish schools to the museum, where they were presented with their certificates. Everyone had a most enjoyable day and many joined their countrymen in celebration.
For the visitors to the museum, it was an ideal opportunity to become immersed in the culture and traditions of the Polish people.

July 23rd : Ford MKII Rally

Ford Rally at the RLC

The Ford Rally was once again at the museum; well attended by enthusiasts and visitors.

Although some notable 'other cars' had again visited us (was that a Rover that I saw, and an MG, a Chevrolet and a few others), there were enough Fords to please anyone! They were all in exceptionally good condition - maybe a surprise for those of us who remember the rust and corrosion of yesteryear.
The club had a superb display outside the RLC Schoolroom, of items for sale including spare parts. We hope to see them (and you) again at the museum.

July 30th : Rustic Sunday

Rustic Sunday

Rustic Sunday is the flagship day arranged by the Rustics Volunteers of the museum, aided and abetted by the staff and many visiting craftspeople, without whom it would be far less spectacular! It is always always held on the last Sunday of July. This year, it seemed as though we were in for a wet day – the previous day it rained almost continually, and during the night it was so windy that an established apple tree next to our Prefab was blown down. However, like magic, Rustic Sunday remained clear and sunny; nothing (except the apple tree) had sustained damage, and everyone enjoyed an absolutely wonderful day!

Rustics and loads of exhibitors turned up to sow the seeds for a great day. It was rounded off by the hundreds of visitors who came to enjoy themselves – so many that we ran out of wrist-bands for them and had to break out the rubber hand-stamp again! Rustics removed the branches from the apple-tree casualty, and the Woodies finished constructing the new fence outside the Shop – a great bit of work! The fence was built entirely from wood they got from trees at the museum - much of it was from the overgrown fir trees that the fence replaced!

Several "first-time" stalls came to us this year; thanks to them for enhancing and experiencing our Day. We also had the opportunity to welcome back the many "regulars" – thanks to each and every one of you – you all made the day truly memorable with your excellent exhibits and demonstrations of your expertise. We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did!

Visitors to the museum may notice us tidying all the stuff away for a few days yet. Once it is done we can begin thinking of the 2018 Rustic Sunday, which will be a special one for us since it will be 40 years since it was first held at the Rural Life Centre!


September 2nd & 3rd : Vintage Revival

Rural Life Vintage Revival

Katie did a super job of organising the weekend, and many visitors came to the museum to join in. The stallholders dressed in period clothes, as did many visitors, and everyone had a great time!

Visitors had plenty of choices, with stalls selling clothing and wares from the early to mid century. Live music was provided by The New Hawleans Jug Band, Steve Conway, and The Riverboat Ramblers.
On the evenings of Friday and Saturday, there was an open air cinema experience (showing David Lean's classic film Brief Encounter) followed by a spirited performance from The Vic Cracknell Swing Band.

Vintage enthusiasts, many in 40s and 50s outfits, admired the cars on show and browsed the stalls, as well as taking part in Lindy Hop dance lessons by The Dance Movement.

A thoroughly good time was had by all at this pioneering event.
Rural Life Vintage Revival will be back next year.

September 10th : Donkey Day Out

Donkey Day Out

The Donkey Breed Society held another highly successful and informative meeting at the Rural Life Centre, showing us exactly what these wonderful beasts could do (when they had a mind to it)!

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