“ Contact: Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay, England TQ1 4PR / Tel: +44 (0)1803 326108 „
WHERE IS BYGONES AND IS IT JUST A MUSEUM?
Bygones is a Victorian museum situated in St.Marychurch , Torquay, Devon. It is in the main highstreet of St.Marychurch. However, calling it a museum does not really do the place justice. To me it is more than a museum and a funny story is that my ex boyfriend's grandparents own it. Over dinner one evening we got chatting about it and I told them how I was always popping into Bygones to buy my beanie babies which were a massive craze at the time (about 10-12 years ago) because at the front of Bygones is a small shop selling them. The shop also sells bits from wooden toys, to china and old fashioned packet sweets. So it was bizarre that I had gone into Bygones several times not knowing anything about its history and there I was sitting opposite the people that set Bygones up and I was learning about its history. It was a lovely story to hear about the history first hand and now I am going to try to reiterate some of what I was told over the dinner table as well as I can.
BYGONES HISTORY AND WHAT BYGONES INCLUDES
Bygones was founded in 1986. The couple decided to make a place where they could share their passion with railways and antiques with the public. But as I said it is not just a museum, the couple have really brought the place to life with a tour that includes a walk through a cobbled street with life size shops which makes you really feel that you are in Victorian times even with the smells that you smell on your way around. In 1987 the couple opened the doors to Bygones after they had created fabulous Victorian scenes that became a tour for the public to be shown. I went on this tour twice, once in primary school and then again in secondary school. I remember it being a lot fun getting to dress up as a Victorian lady for the day. The scenes included Victorian shops such as an apothecary, period display rooms with different parts of a Victorian house for example, the nursery, kitchen... for me I found this part of the tour particularly interesting because when I was 12 years old my parents bought me a gorgeous doll's house for my birthday which was around the same time as one of the tours I went on. Most doll's houses seem to be based on Victorian times and I recreated some of the scenes I saw in my dolls house as best I could.
In another part of the tour there is a 28 foot working model railway which even I not a great fan of trains was extremely impressed by. Again the scenes on the railway told a story such as seeing the factory workers. From what I was told by the couple about Bygones over dinner this railway was the reason for them first setting up Bygones in order to house the railway.
In another section of the tour around Bygones there is a wall display of medals and scene to show World War 1 trenches. There is also a section on the Anderson shelter which was again a very educational point on the tour when going around it with the school. I also was very familiar with the Anderson shelter since at the time we were renting a house with an Anderson shelter at the end of the garden. I do remember becoming quite bored though at the time since my history teacher droned on and on about World War 1 stories and although these stories I would now find very interesting at the time I did not. I think history will be one of those subjects that I wish I paid a little more attention to when I was at school.
But that is not the end of the tour around Bygones there was still more to come including a 40s/50s arcade, a fantasy land of buildings from around the world, an old amusement arcade and other set up scenes including a scene from Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Company to show real items used onboard and some other items of history. The Fantasy Land was of most interest to me, the other sections seemed to go over my head. The Fantasy Land included fantastic model sizes of places from around the world. The one's which I remember were the oh so famous Eiffel Tower, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace as well as the Taj Mahal. When you press different buttons of the Fantasy Land it all individually came to life such as the Tower Bridge opening up.
At the end of the tour was a café but not just any café it was created to look as a station café. I think that is what is so lovely about Bygones that every part of it takes you back to the Victorian era, you do not pop out into the 21st Century half way through or as you enter the café. It meant that since we had dressed up as Victorian ladies and men that we could stay in character throughout the entire tour.
The food in the Café is not something I remember terribly well because it was many years ago that I went on the tour. But my ex boyfriend's mum worked in Bygones and I saw her making some delicious homemade cakes and sandwiches ready for the café. So I do know that the snacks from the café are not disappointing.
WAS IT A WORTHWHILE SCHOOL TRIP?
It was definitely a great school trip out. I would say that the second time around it I picked up things that I had not the first trip around so it was still a worthwhile tour second time around. However there were a couple of years between each trip. I think if I had gone to Bygones the second time just a year later I would have found the tour a little bit boring because it is stretched to be a much longer tour than it needs to be.
IS BYGONES JUST FOR SCHOOL TRIPS OR IS IT A GREAT DAY OUT FOR THE FAMILY TOO?
I would not say that it is a day trip; it is an afternoon or morning trip, so approximately takes half a day if you are eating in the café too. If you have young children and you like to educate them yourself then I am sure it would be an interesting tour for the whole family. But it is certainly not a tour my parents would have taken me on, I can imagine my parents finding it extremely boring, but similarly I would expect my children (if and when I have any) to be taken around Bygones with their school, not for me to take them on the tour. I certainly would not be a great history teacher to my children, as I previously said I did not pay much attention to history lessons. It can probably be underlying seen from my review that I did not take a lot of history away from the tour... getting tips for my dolls house and pressing buttons to watch the Fantasy Land light up and move. But I suppose it got all us kids out of the classroom and it was far more interactive and memorable than any classroom lesson would have been. I would have thought many other children that were better at history than me took in a lot more from the tour.
PRICES AND TOURS
Senior Citizens: £6.50
Children (4-14 years old) = £4.95
Children under 4 years old are free
Family ticket (based on two adults and two children) = £23.00
There is a discounted rate for disabled visitors and their carers (wheelchair access is only on the main cobbled street with the shops and period scenes).
Dogs are allowed on leads with restricted access in the café.
Groups of 15 or more get a discounted rate with the enjoyment of a cream tea There are 3 different tours with different areas to be guided and unguided.
Tour 1 includes: a guided tour of the street of shops and period scenes which takes approximately an hour and then the rest of Bygones is unguided for between £4.00 - £5.00 per person depending on age.
Tour 2 includes: a guided tour of World War I and World War II and unguided access to the rest of Bygones. This takes around 45 minutes for the guided tour. £3.50 per child.
Tour 3 includes: complete guided tour around the whole of Bygones. £7.00 per child with free Victorian dressing up.
Birthday parties can also be booked here but it is not something I would organise for a child's birthday party due to it being an educational based tour. But a special deal can be made for birthday parties with a special birthday tea.
There are other events that go on in Bygones, there has just been a Halloween event including a treasure hunt and there is a similar event for Christmas. These events do not include an extra charge which I thought was very good. But again it is not a tour that you would go on just because of it being a special event in my opinion.
From November to January 10am till 4pm, with last entries at 3pm.
From February to March 10am till 5pm, with last entries at 4pm.
From April to October 10am till 6pm, with last entries at 5pm.
Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay, England TQ1 4PR
Telephone: 01803 326108
Email address: http://www.bygones.co.uk