Last weekend I was honoured to be welcomed, during my tour around the beautiful North Yorkshire, as a guest at Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum.
Having not been there since I was little, I have to say I was a little intrigued as to what I would encounter…
Being only 16, I didn’t necessarily know what it would be like from a younger generation’s point of view; whether there would even be anything of interest, never mind for me to enjoy! To my amazement, I have to say it turned out be one of the most interesting and, not only educational, but absolutely amazing few hours of my life!
Eden Camp is certainly for everyone, from families with young children, young adults, right up to the elderly. I encountered all age groups having a wonderful time. The excitement of the venue was clear to see; extremely intoxicating and the more I explored, the more I noticed the fun people were having whilst discovering our history from all eras right up to recent times. I have to say there was a huge amount of atmosphere around the Blitz hut, transporting you straight back into the time, commanding such respect of those who lived through this period.
All the staff were so knowledgeable and extremely proud to present the museum and I watched them on numerous occasions discussing the various huts with visitors. The Museum Manager, Nick, was lovely and unbelievably knowledgeable. Frank, the Site Manager, having worked there for over 22 years, was also very approachable and a great character; the perfect person to have at the camp. I also must not forget to mention Summer who helped and guided me regarding uniforms and how they were worn!
I was overwhelmed and felt very privileged to be allowed to wear one of the Women’s Land Army authentic uniforms. How I am dressed in the photos is likely to have been something they would have worn on parade as it is the full formal kit, however it was still worn at work when out on the farms. It was very surreal putting the uniform on, and whilst buttoning up the shirt I stopped for a moment realising how it felt, knowing that the very same uniform had been worn by a Land Army girl, possibly even around my age, all those years ago and made me feel rather emotional and privileged for the experience.
These extraordinary women worked so tirelessly in agriculture, reviving the disbanded World War One organisation and replacing men called up to the military. The Women’s Land Army were commonly known as Land Girls. They picked crops and did all the jobs men would do. They were often called “The Forgotten Army” and were never given any medals for their dedication, not even recognised until our present Queen Elizabeth II came into reign and honoured them with a certificate. Their work was truly amazing, and if I take nothing else from Eden Camp, I came away with an enormous amount of admiration for their work and dedication. Although I only wore the uniform for the few hours, I certainly wore it with pure pride.
The first photo also shows a Raynal Deluxe Autobike, which I had the opportunity to ride. It has a 98cc Villiers engine and can go up to 30mph. It was used predominantly by the postal service and the women’s auxiliary corps. Please, if you visit, ask Frank about this amazing bike and don’t forget to enquire about my riding skills, I believe they left a lot to be desired and pure entertainment for the staff and visitors alike!!
Even in the pouring rain, Frank and Nick went over and above to show me around with their wonderful museum, outstanding displays of history, taking out military vehicles so my photographer could take photos for me to show the world.
The museum is perfect for all seasons, whether it be rain or sunshine and there is a lovely little café onsite. The smell of the food, I must say, was wonderful! How the Camp is divided up means you can take your time and certainly enjoy a full day to tour around, or perfect for even a few hours, although if you do I bet you will come back again as there is so much to experience.
Looking inside the huts, it took me back to times of what my grandparents have talked about and the photographs they had. It made me feel very close to them even though sadly they are no longer with me. With my great grandfather having served in World War II, it was very special to experience, if only for the few hours, a time which I can only appreciate was so hard. He has left some wonderful medals to us as a family and I am sure one day some will end up here [Eden Camp] for generations to see.
Whilst I only had a few of hours to spend at Eden Camp due to other commitments I vowed I would be back again very shortly for a full day to explore what I would consider must be one of the greatest and very unique attractions, not just in the UK but, possibly in the world! There are not many other places that one can learn, feel and be transported back in time, realising what it must really have been like, but at the same time having great fun in such a relaxed atmosphere, taking away so much knowledge.
I will be writing a further blog once I have been through all the huts, but for now I have to give my heartfelt thanks to all at Eden Camp for welcoming me as their guest and I recommend you to experience for yourself as I did, you really will not be disappointed!!!
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