The Royal Mint, based in Llantrisant, opened its doors to the public earlier this year, with its newly launched Royal Mint Experience, which gives visitors an insight to the production of coins. To sum up it’s very informative, very interesting and for a family trip, very expensive!
As it was pouring down with rain, no make that, absolutely hammering down with rain on Saturday, we wanted something to do that would be indoors, but without the crowds of the dreaded soft play. I then remembered that the Royal Mint had opened its doors with the new Royal Mint Experience in the summer, and as the kids seem to have an inbuilt love of money, we thought it woud be a good mix of something fun and interesting to do.
There is plenty of free parking, but be warned its about a five minute walk from the car park to the main entrance. We sat in the car for five minutes to see whether the rain would ease, which it didn’t, so in the end we put our hoods up and made a mad dash for the doors. We were greated at the reception and were sold a family ticket for £40.00 and then paid an extra £5.00 for two goes at striking your own £1.00 coin.
Luckily for us, we arrived just in time for the next tour. We went through the security scanners and were ushered into a small cinema room. We were then greeted by our host who informed us of what to expect; we would see a short film, we would then have a guided tour showing how coins are produced and see the factory at work and would then have the opportunity to spend as long as we wanted in the interactive exhibition area, which was effectively a museum. Due to security reasons, no photographs or filming were allowed on the tour.
The film itself was very interesting, with some astonishing facts on how many coins are produced each year – my guess was way out by the way! Then on to the tour, where we were escorted outside and then led across to the main factory building.
We had to wait outside for a couple of minutes as the tour in front of us were finishing off in that section. We were then led inside and shown how all the coins are made from the initial making of a blank coin through to the engraving, all of which was fascinating.
From that room we were then led into an area which had a glass viewing area looking out onto the actual factory floor. It was a shame that you couldn’t see more of the factory or hear the noises from it, a viewing platform would have been ideal, but this is probably due to security reasons.
We were then led through to where you could have your own coin stamped. Which meant that you could press a button and the be issued with your coin which had been engraved on both sides. Whilst legal tender, it makes a nice souvenir as it is stamped with the days date and is so much shinier than most pounds that you will come across. For an extra £7.50 you can then have a photograph taken in front of some boxes of coins, which I thought was pretty expensive on top so we didn’t bother.
The tour then took you back into the exhibition centre, which had lots of fascinating information on coin production and the history of the Mint, from where it all started in the Tower of London. On display you could see the London 2012 olympic medals and the coins produced by the mint for countries across the world.
The guided tour of the Royal Mint took about 40 minutes, and then you could take as long as you wanted to browse through the exhibition. I found the guided tour a little rushed and a bit too much like being on a conveyor belt. At one point we were asked to move on so the next tour group could enter the room without being given the chance to have a look around. Whilst we had plenty of time to browse in the exhibition, we lasted about an hour before boredom set in.
After the tour we headed to the cafe for a quick bite in the light and airy cafe. You could have a tuna and mayo sandwich c.£5.00 or a meal deal consisting of a sandwich, packet of crisps and a drink for £6.00. Clearly its a no brainer to have the meal deal. Without a suitable child option ours shared a meal deal too. If I was to go again, I would time our visit better to not have to eat at the cafe, but instead to just stop maybe for a quick cuppa.
All in all, I found our visit to the Royal Mint very interesting and informative, the kids loved it and I am pleased that we went, however I did find it expensive. For adults, a price of £13 for entry and tour, I think is reasonable, but over £10 for the over fives, I think is a little steep. For a family to pay £40.00 (plus the £5.00 for the coins) for a two hour outing is pretty expensive, especially when you compare it to the Cardiff Museum.
I also think they are missing a trick when it comes to child visitors. Whilst there are some areas in the exhibition for them to draw and design their own coins there is not much room for them to do this, only allowing for two children at a time, and there are very few other areas for them to explore. A quiz or some sort of fact sheet for them to learn from would no doubt add to the educational aspect of the visit.