Sandford Mill Museum
For those interested in the history of water wheels, you may want to visit the Sandford Mill Museum in Chelmsford, Essex. Located in Oaklands Park off Moulsham Street, the museum combines the history of Chelmsford with that of the Essex Regiment. A PS5 million redevelopment in 2010 added interactive displays on Marconi, Crompton and Hoffmann, as well as new exhibits from Broomfield. Located near the River Chelmer, Sandford Mill has displays on the town’s history of waterwheel, waterworks, electrical engineering, rolling bearings, and telecommunications industries.
Visitors to the museum will find pieces by UK artist Grayson Perry in a gallery dedicated to his work. Visitors will also find a Roman coin exhibit, an Ice Age mammoth bone display, and a Neoclassical villa by Sir John Comyns, one of the Royal Horticultural Society’s four gardens. Visitors can explore the restored tower mill that was constructed in 1816.
The museum is housed in an attractive Georgian manor house, the Oaklands House. The museum was built by entrepreneur Charles Pertwee in the early 1700s. Its neo-Romanesque campanile is a stunning feature. Recently, the museum underwent a multi-million pound extension. The museum showcases many aspects of the history of the town and its surrounding area, including its famous Hoffmann Ball Bearings factory.
After the war, Chelmsford became an important centre for light engineering and defence-related industries. In the 1940s, the city was hit by several Air Raids from the Luftwaffe. In December 1944, the 367th Vergeltungswaffe 2 rocket fell in a residential street in Chelmsford. Nearby, several dwellings were destroyed and damaged. Afterwards, the former mill was converted into luxury apartments. Continue reading
The museum also hosts fun educational days throughout the year, with activities aimed at children and adults alike. The museum also offers a tearoom, a shop, and a museum dedicated to the history of jam-making. The building is a Grade II* listed building. In 1885, it was the premier house of Essex. Its landscaped grounds are also home to ancient woodland, grassland, heath, and rivers.
The museum also hosts the famous Southend Castle. This ruins-turned-museum is open 24 hours a day and features collections on natural history, fossils, paintings, and drawing. Kids will love the cuddly chinchillas, alpacas, and guinea pigs. A visit here is not complete without stopping to visit the museum’s many events and exhibitions.
The town is easily accessible from London, with Stansted Airport just 25-30 minutes away. Other nearby airports include London Heathrow, Gatwick, and London City. The city’s central location is served by the A138 and A414. During peak traffic times, traffic at these two roundabouts is notorious. Traffic lights were installed in the early 2000s but were later decommissioned and repurposed for part-time use.
The park includes a Neoclassical villa that was rescued from dereliction in 1966 by the local council. It now hosts community events and is sometimes hired for lavish weddings. The interiors date from the 1730s. The museum also includes an artist’s studio. Hylands Park is a large country park in the city. Ancient woodland and Victorian formal gardens are part of this park. The park also includes an accessible adventure playground based on a medieval fortress.