Our Visit to The National Waterfront Museum Swansea

The National Waterfront Museum Swansea exhibits the history of industry and innovation in Wales.  Spanning back over the last 300 years right up to the present day.  It makes for a very interesting and informative day out.   With its interactive displays, models of cars and trains, there is enough on show to keep kids engaged too.

National Waterfront Museum Swansea Review

As 2018 is the year of the sea, The National Waterfront Museum is also currently showing an exhibit on Pirates – the Truth Behind the Tales. This Pirate exhibition will be showing until 30th September 2018.

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We visited on a wet and miserable day.  As listed on our rainy-day places to go, it’s one to have up your sleeve to keep the kids entertained for a couple of hours.

A Review of our Visit to the National Waterfront Museum Swansea

On our visit, we headed straight into the main museum area which focuses on the history of industry in Wales.  We learnt all about transport, networks and materials key to our Welsh History.   

There was information on the importance of our coal mining.  Apart from other things, the boys were most shocked to learn that before the mid-nineteenth century, children were expected to work in the mines.  12-year-old boys were employed in the mines until 1911.  Considering my two find it hard to fold their own clothes and tidy their rooms, I think they were amazed!  There was a little ‘pretend’ mine they could crawl through to see how small some of the mines could have been.

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There was a lot to see and lots to read.  Too much for most kids, and that’s where the interactive exhibits really helped keep them engaged.  The room which showed the evolution of trains within Wales had portals to explore with an interactive map, which was great.  They also learnt about new energy sources such as Wind power and how this can generate electricity. 

National Waterfront Museum Swansea Review

It also had the Sinclair C5 on show.  I’m no doubt showing my age now, but does anyone else remember them being in the news way back when?  If not, let me enlighten you.  They were a small one person battery and electric tricycle.  Invented by millionaire Clive Sinclair.

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There was one on show and there was also a replica which you could sit in and have a go.  The first thing my boys asked is ‘how would this work?  Its uncomfortable and wouldn’t feel safe next to cars’.  Hmm not wrong there! That may go some way to explain why they flopped.  Despite their glitzy launch only 5,000 were ever sold before the whole thing went bust.  The C5 became known as “one of the great marketing bombs of postwar British industry”

Whilst the interactive exhibits were great, I do think that the experience would have benefited from a kids quiz.  A treasure hunt style quiz which would ensure that they had to at least read some of the information on show.  They did this at the National Wool Museum we visited not so long ago, and it worked really well. 

There was so much to learn there, it’s the type of place you could head back to again and again, especially with older kids.  A lot of the topics covered would likely help with their learning at school too. 

Pirates Exhibition – at The National Waterfront Museum until 30th September 2018

As Wales celebrates its Year of the Sea, the museum is telling the story of pirates throughout the world.  Despite the clear kids interest in Pirates, most of the exhibition is targeted at older kids or adults.  It covered real ‘traditional pirates’ in history to the current Somali pirates still in our seas today.  The true accounts of real piracy only held their attention for so long.  Although this may also have had something to do with the fact that we had already spent a couple of hours in the main part of the museum.  So clearly it would have been best to start with whatever your kids are most interested in.

Saying that, at the centre of the exhibition was a replica pirate ship.  Here little ones could have a go at the wheel, dress up as Pirates and read some Pirate story books.  They loved it and spent quite some time here.

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There was also the chance to play a mini snakes and ladders on the floor with a giant dice which they also enjoyed.

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The true or false barrel also kept them amused.  Here they had to decipher what pirate facts were true.  So were pirates really made to walk the plank?

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All in all, an interesting exhibition and a great addition to an already very informative museum.  As it’s free entry its a great place to combine with the nearby LC2 centre or a walk around the marina.  

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Facilities at the National Waterfront Museum

Whilst the National Waterfront Museum has a nice café located with in the main building.  We however chose to call into another cafe accessible from the museum called Cafe Fresco.  This is a smaller café, accessible by not leaving the main building.  This made a nice stop for a quick cuppa.

There are lockers, where you can deposit your belongings for a refundable £1.00.

There are toilets, disabled toilets and baby changing facilities.

What’s nearby?

As its based in the Maritime Quarter Swansea you could also combine it with a visit to the Marina, the Swansea Museum or the nearby LC2 centre.

Additional Information:

Address: Oystermouth Road, Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA1 3RD

Website: https://museum.wales/swansea/

Admission charge: Free


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  1. Val
    May 2, 2018 / 7:03 pm

    A really informative and interesting review, certainly makes me want to visit

    • May 7, 2018 / 8:12 pm

      You should, it’s a great informative afternoon out 🙂

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