Amberley Working Museum
Amberley Working Museum
Amberley is a thirty-six acre open air museum set in the midst of the beautiful South Downs in West Sussex. It is next to Amberley railway station in the Arun River valley, not far from the historic town of Arundel. With its historic buildings, working exhibits and demonstrations the Museum aims to show how science, technology and industry have affected peoples' lives.
Amberley Museum was established in 1979 to preserve the rapidly disappearing industrial history of the south east. Since that time the museum has developed into a major education and research centre, as well as providing an interesting and educational day out.
Today the museum houses a number of important collections, supported by libraries and archives. The museum is also home to several self-employed craftspeople who earn their living while demonstrating their craft to our visitors. Every day craftsmen are working, other demonstrations take place and exhibits are in operation. The vintage bus and narrow gauge railway take visitors around the site.
Season runs from 12 March to 2 November, Wednesdays to Sundays. 10am - 6pm with last entry at 5pm.
Also open daily on the following dates:
Easter: Wed 9 April - Sun 27 April
Half term: Wed 21 May - Sun 1 June
Summer: Wed 16 July - Sun 7 Sept
Half term: Wed 22 Oct - Sun 2 Nov
In addition, the Museum will also be open every Bank Holiday.
Over 60: £6.20
Disabled access: All exhibit areas are accessible for wheelchairs, with exceptions being the nature trails. We have a purpose built railway coach for wheelchair users. There are disabled toilet facilities and we can also provide a large text guide sheet on request.
Education: Amberley as learning experience has so much to offer across the curriculum and the key stages particularly in Science, Technology, History and Geography. It is an ideal setting that enables children to appreciate the natural downland environment and the influences man and technology have had on it. The Museum exhibits link well to themes such as "River, Rail and Road", "Wood to Word", "Telegraph to Telephone", "Clay to Pot", "Trees to Timber", "Candle to Bulb", "Carriage to Bus" and many more. Transport played and an important and vital role in the history of the site and continues to do so today. The Museum is easily accessible by road, rail and even river. The Education team can help plan the visit to meet the needs of the children and the curriculum.
Milne Electrical Collection: There are a small number of major electrical collections in Britain and the collection at Amberley is one of the principal examples. It concentrates on technical developments in the south east, backed up by a wealth of written material, company records and library. It is a very well used resource for people studying the history of the area as well as for historians of technology.
BT's Connected Earth collection: This new exhibition opened in May 2002 and outlines the history of BT and telecommunications. From early communications right through to the present day, this exhibition makes up part of the partnerships formed with BT. The complete list of partners can be seen at the Connected Earth online resource by clicking on the link above.
Printing: The Museum has a significant collection of printing machinery from the hand operated Columbian Eagle press of the Victorian era to the offset-litho machines of the recent past. The presses are regularly demonstrated to Museum visitors and the demonstrations are particularly popular with school groups.
Roads and Roadmaking collection: From the beginning, the Trustees aimed to cover the technologies which improved communications in the south east. Although road vehicles were well represented in museums, the technology and development of road surfaces and the road system was neglected. The items acquired over the years have now been incorporated into a major exhibition, the Paviors' Museum of Roads and Roadmaking, which we believe to be the only exhibition of its type in the country. The collection on display is supported by a reference collection and extensive documentary material. In conjunction with the Worshipful Company of Paviors we hope to develop Amberley into an important centre for the study of the history of roads and road building.
Concrete Technology: The Museum holds a major collection relating to the ubiquitous material concrete. This includes samples of the material, testing equipment, parts of structures and photographic and documentary material. As the only collection of its type in the country it is regularly used by people interested in the history of concrete and concrete structures. For example, samples from the collection are being used by the University of Manchester to investigate how the structure of concrete has changed with the passage of time.
Narrow gauge railway collection: Narrow gauge railways have a history of use in quarries, engineering works, military facilities and construction sites and Amberley has a large collection of this material.
Although we do operate some passenger stock our collection concentrates on the stock used for freight and mineral workings which is not preserved elsewhere. The collection is of national significance with many of the items being originally used by companies based in the south east.
Omnibus Collection: This collection aims to show the development of the motor bus in the South East, concentrating on the period up to the 1940s. The collection is supported by an extensive archive recording the history of Southdown Motor Services.
Radio, Television & Communications: The early technology of an industry that has a major influence on present day life is well represented in the collection of early radio and television equipment, many examples of which are shown in working order. It is one of the most significant collections of this material in the country.
Natural History: The Museum site itself has significant natural history interest. When chalk quarrying ceased in the 1960s, the vegetation began to develop naturally and wildlife returned. The Museum now is home to a wide range of species including orchids, a continental spider known nowhere else in Britain and several colonies of bats. The Trustees commissioned an ecological management plan for the Museum and this is used to ensure that daily operations and new developments do not damage important areas.
There are currently two nature trails provided for Museum visitors with illustrated panels interpreting the natural history along the route. The importance of the Museum site is such that it is being considered for designation as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.
Industry, Land Transport, Natural Sciences, Science and Technology
Key artists and exhibits
- Radio, Television & Communications
- Roads and Roadmaking
- Concrete Technology
- Narrow gauge railway
- Natural History
Amberley Working Museum Education Handbook
The Education Handbook, available as a free download, explains everything a visiting group needs to know. It includes admission times and prices, a map of the site, and details of the workshops, talks and loan boxes available.