Welcome to the National Ice Cream Death Museum

Are you running out of educational but interesting things to do this wet summer?
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
PARENTS! ARE you having a bad time trying to keep your children amused? Are you running out of educational but interesting things to do this wet summer? We come to the rescue today with a list of lesser-known museums and craft places round the country, all of them fun and all of them free !

Note to dads: none of these museums has a McDonald's anywhere nearby!

Note to mums: they all have lavatories attached ! Especially the National Toilet Museum in the Potteries!

The National Pre-Childhood Museum, Leeds

Many museums are devoted to childhood - to dolls, to toys, to games and so on - which has obscured the fact that for many people today and for most people in yesteryear, childhood did not really exist. Children went out to work, or looked after the farm or home. Reality for them was sweeping chimneys, working in factories or herding sheep. This museum celebrates the hard times of our vanished childhood. Director Claud Treadle says: "You'd be amazed how today's children love climbing up our grim Victorian Chimney Experience, or even getting into our treadmill and operating it for hours. To make it more modern, we also have Pakistani-style workshops where you can manufacture England playing strip or cheap footballs..."

National Feng Shui Centre

More careful planning went into the siting of the National Feng Shui Centre than almost any building ever planned in Britain. After 10 years of consultation and more than two dozen Chinese experts being involved, it was finally decided to build it in a remote part of Cornwall. So far attendance figures have been disappointing. "I cannot be quoted on this, obviously," says Feng Shui Centre director Harold Xerxes, "but we may have put it in a very stupid place."

National Ice Cream Death Museum, Derbyshire

Perhaps the most unusual display anywhere in Britain this small but lively museum is devoted to major accidents, deaths and disasters caused by ice cream, from the great M65 pile-up of 1981 (caused by a discarded vanilla tub, on which a lorry skidded) to the case of the Sussex child who swallowed a wooden ice cream spoon in 1967 and still walks around happily with it inside. Anyone who has any new ice cream disaster to report should ring their Cones Hot Line (sic).

Transport Plans Of The Past, near Exit 3, M25

New transport plans have been put forward almost every year since the Romans arrived, but very few have ever been carried out. This display brings some of the best from the past, and some of the wackiest, including plans for an enormous 16-horse stagecoach to get 40 people from London to Bath in less than a day.

National Toilet Museum, The Potteries

You would think, with our British obsession with toilets, that we would have had a national museum devoted to the subject years ago. This one, at last, has it all - the history of the flush, outside lavvies from all over, royal loos from different palaces, and genuine sheets from the 1930s Daily Mirror torn out and hung on a nail on the wall. There is a display of the evolution of the public convenience (labelled rather coyly "A Penny For Your Thoughts") and even a history of lavatory jokes from medieval graffiti to modern videos of Ben Elton.

Museum of Defunct Museums

Where do the exhibits of yesteryear go? To here if they're lucky! Yes, in the Museum of Defunct Museums you will find relics of such long-gone collections as Queen Victoria's Comb Collection and the short-lived Darwinism Disproved Display, funded by the Church of England in 1869, and more modern casualties such as Ginseng House and Newcastle's Gazza Gallery.

National Ambulance Collection

Not quite so many people have passions for ambulances as they do for buses and trains, but there are enough of them to make this display viable. "Ambulancemania combines two deep British passions," says head curator Archie Foot, "love of speed and hypchondria. What dizzier experience for the average Brit than to go through a red traffic light feeling poorly! And you should see the faces of the passers-by when we have our annual vintage ambulance rally! One ambulance driver going like a mad man is always exciting to come across - can you imagine the effect of seeing 20 or 30 in a row, all with bells and sirens going?"