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Great Days Out
Great Days Out
Castlefield Guide

£ At a Price
 by Jonathan Schofield

The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester

Entrance Lower Byrom Street.

Tel: 0161 832 1830.
Fax: 0161 832 2244.
£5 adults, £3 Concessions.
Open every day 10am-5pm except 24th, 25th, 26th December.

This award winning museum is a must for anybody interested in the history of the city and in Britain in general. You will probably need at last five hours to do the place justice. The best time to go is on a weekend when the demonstrators are all at work and the steam train is chugging around on the rails.

Remember you get a day ticket which allows you to leave the site and come back later that same day.The site covers five large buildings and has permanent exhibitions covering the Making of Manchester, Underground Manchester, Xperiment (the hands-on fun palace of finding out), the Electricity Gallery, Out of this World ( science fact and fiction), the Power Hall, the Air and Space Gallery, the Gas Gallery, Futures and Fibres, Fabrics and Fashion.The most modern of the above is the last, Fibres, Fabrics and Fashion, which explains the science and techniques of textiles and its integral importance to Manchester.

If this sounds dull don't be put off because it is wonderfully done with lots of clever tricks to grab and hold the attention and it looks superb. The Power Hall contains the largest collection anywhere of working steam engines which whirr away divorced from their previous industrial surroundings like massive mobiles in an art gallery. The Air and Space Gallery contains a full Shackleton bomber/surveillance 'plane, a Spitfire, and a Japanese "kamikaze" bomber.

Futures is housed in the world's oldest railway warehouse which dates from 1830 and houses a reconstruction of the "Baby", the first stored computer from 1948. Nearby you can get on line or just play around with the computers strewn around. In the adjacent building which houses the world's oldest railway station you can experience the delights of a Victorian Sewer. The station building itself tells the story of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway and shows mannikin passengers buying tickets. You can only visit the outside of the building by leaving the museum.

There is a changing programme of visiting exhibitions which covers topics from Automata to Star Trek. The Museum shop is excellent but unfortunately the catering is mediocre in the extreme. Probably the best thing to do is to bring sandwiches or leave the site for lunch.

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