Milestones can be found on the Basingstoke leisure park and is signposted on all the approach roads into the town. First impressions of the building are that it resembles more a sports hall rather than a museum, but appearances can be deceptive so we parked the car and entered. After passing through reception (prices being adults £7.25, children £4.25) we stood at the top of the stairs leading to the museum floor and gazed at the rooftops of an undercover Hampshire town. Milestones is a journey through the history of the county, starting in 1850 and ending at the outbreak of the second World War.
This journey is made through a series of reconstructed buildings that were found in Hampshire at various times in this period, for example, the first building is a replica of Waterloo Ironworks, the Tasker factory that was near Andover. Here can be seen a machine shop and a gallery of Tasker products. Continuing the tour of the museum floor we discovered a building from Wallis an Steevens, Chesil Street Station, Winchester, a Co-Op, and numerous other shops and galleries, there was even a working pub. This Victorian end of the museum contains most of the steam exhibits, on the road and the showground, all of course being from Hampshire builders. There are amongst others, a Tasker Chain drive tractor, a nice Tasker traction engine and the sole surviving Wallis and Steevens wagon.
The second half of the museum represents the 1930s and 40s with various period style buildings and transport including many Thornycroft lorries restored by the Museum.
Here we also found an area containing collections of domestic bygones, a sweet shop and bandstand where we imagined that visiting musicians played to entertain the public.
Although this attraction is called a ‘living history’ museum, on the day of our visit there was very little evidence of much living history, certainly not of the type to be seen at places like the Black Country museum or Ironbridge and we thought that this was a bit of a disappointment. With a venue such as this, containing such realistic street scenes, a great deal could be done to both entertain and inform visitors, especially with such a wealth of information and history in Hampshire from which to draw.
On the whole, Milestones is well worth a visit for anyone who is interested in recent history, it contains some good examples of road steam engines and commercial vehicles and provides an enjoyable day out for all members of the family.