People's History Museum
Lonely Planet review for People's History Museum
The story of Britain's 200-year march to democracy is told in all its pain and pathos at this superb museum, housed in a refurbished Edwardian pumping station. Clock in on the 1st floor (you literally punch your card in an old mill clock, which managers would infamously fiddle so as to make employees work longer) and plunge into the heart of Britain's struggle for basic democratic rights, labour reform and fair pay. Amid displays like the (tiny) desk at which Thomas Paine (1737–1809) wrote Rights of Man (1791) and an array of beautifully made and colourful union banners are compelling interactive displays, including a screen where you can trace the effects of all the events covered in the museum on five generations of the same family. The 2nd floor takes up the struggle for equal rights from WWII to the current day, touching on gay rights, anti-racism initiatives and the defining British socio-political landmarks of the last 50 years, including the founding of the National Health Service (NHS), the Miners' Strike and the widespread protests against the Poll Tax. It's compelling stuff, and a marvellous example of a museum's relevance to our everyday lives.