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Exploring the UK Military Past at Norfolk Tank Museum 

by Paola Bertoni
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Paola Bertoni outside the Norfolk Tank Museum in front of some tanks

The Norfolk Tank Museum is a remarkable independent museum in Forncett St. Peter. It houses a collection of military vehicles, weapons, and militaria mainly from the 20th Century and the Cold War period. Visiting this museum, you can gain insight into the war vehicles and the lives of soldiers or civilians who have taken part to the last conflicts.

Discover the Norfolk Tank Museum

The Norfolk Tank Museum, situated in Forncett St. Peter, is an autonomous museum where you can see many military vehicles, weaponry, and militaria, primarily from the 20th Century and the Cold War Era. The museum’s principal focus is to restore and keep the tanks and armoured vehicles in working condition.

Moreover, the museum intends to provide an educational experience. Here, you can learn about tanks and gain a small insight into the life of a British soldier from the late 19th century, including uniforms, weapons and tools.

The Norfolk Tank Museum takes pride in allowing visitors to handle many items on display. For instance, you can experience the feel of a weapon or sit in a claustrophobic tank. During my visit, I learned that the inside of a tank is so hot that air is barely breathable and soldiers had to carry a hefty backpack during their displacements.

Paola Bertoni inside a tank at the Norfolk Tank Museum
Inside a tank at the Norfolk Tank Museum

Explore the Exhibits of Norfolk Tank Museum 

The Norfolk Tank Museum has an extensive collection of tanks and military vehicles that spans over a century. They are a real treasure trove of military history. Some of them are displayed inside the museum, while others can be seen in the outside area. The open-air exhibits house a variety of captivating displays, including a radio room and an original Anderson Shelter.

As you explore the museum, several tanks and military vehicles are still being restored. The museum’s work is continuous, and the collection grows and is enhanced yearly. During our visit, we were delighted to be accompanied by Stephen, the museum’s curator, full of fascinating insights and stories. He showed us a soldier’s mask worn inside the tanks, as they were not bulletproof then! Stephen’s enthusiasm and knowledge enlivened the collection, making our visit all the more enjoyable.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Norfolk Tank Museum is that many of the tanks are accessible for visitors to climb on and even explore from the inside. This hands-on experience is an excellent opportunity for adults and children alike to get up close with these machines and gain a deeper understanding of their place in history.

Main hangar exhibition at the Norfolk Tank Museum
Main hangar exhibition at the Norfolk Tank Museum

The Main Hangar: The Heart of Norfolk Tank Museum

The Norfolk Tank Museum’s main hangar shows a fascinating collection of military vehicles, weapons, and militaria. The collection includes a replica Mk IV Tank as seen on Channel 4’s documentary ‘Guy Martin’s WWI Tank,’ Centurion tanks, an Mk13 Gun Tank, and an ARV. You can even see these vehicles in action during the museum’s Armourfest festival. 

The Armoury: A Testament to the Evolution of Military Technology

The museum boasts an impressive Armoury with a vast collection of small arms displayed in a shipping container in the main hangar. This collection includes a wide array of weaponry, from pistols to rocket launchers, from the First World War to the present day.

Outside Exhibition: A Collection in Progress

The forecourt near the café and ticket office houses a collection of semi-permanent vehicles and AA guns of Czech and Russian origin, either waiting for restoration or currently undergoing one. Visitors can also explore several vehicles in various stages of refurbishment.

Ben Bertoni in front of a tank in the outside exhibition of Norfolk Tank Museum
My son in front of a tank in the outside exhibition of Norfolk Tank Museum

The Nissen Hut: A Unique Blend of History and Technology

The Nissen Hut serves a dual purpose, offering a unique blend of historical artefacts and modern technology. Visitors can immerse themselves in the stories of World War II and explore the museum’s extensive collection of military radio equipment, which is overseen by the local Waveney Wireless Group.

Armourfest at Norfolk Tank Museum

The Tank Museum in Norfolk is an excellent destination for a fun-filled day. One of the most popular events organised by the museum is the Armourfest, which is held annually. During Armourfest, visitors can witness the museum’s impressive collection of tanks and military vehicles in action as they are driven around the museum premises. It’s an unforgettable experience that brings history to life right before you.

View from inside a tank at Norfolk Tank Museum
View from inside a tank at Norfolk Tank Museum

Practical Information to Visit Norfolk Tank Museum

The Norfolk Tank Museum is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area, and there are a few things you should know before you go. Admission for adults is priced at £9 per person. If you’re visiting with a child, you’ll only need to purchase one adult ticket to gain admission for both of you since one child under 12 can enter for free for each paying adult. This deal makes the museum more affordable for families. Additionally, any extra children will need to pay £5 each.

Directions to Reach Norfolk Tank Museum

The Norfolk Tank Museum, located in Forncett St Peter, South Norfolk, is a highly recommended destination for visitors. To access the museum, it is best to travel by car since it is in the countryside. You can find ample parking space outside the museum to park your vehicle safely.

However, if you plan to travel by public transport, it may require a bit of effort. The nearest train station is Diss on the Great Eastern Line. On weekdays, you can take the Simonds Buses line from the station to reach the museum. You can get off the bus at Forncett Old Station and walk 400 meters to the west to reach the Museum. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any public transport services available on weekends. However, you can visit the Simonds Buses website for updates.

Norfolk Tank Museum
Station Rd, Forncett St Peter
Norwich NR16 1HZ

If you have a keen interest in military history or are simply enthusiastic about tanks, you should visit the Norfolk Tank Museum. The museum boasts a vast collection of tanks, vehicles, and exhibits. It offers a captivating insight into the development of military technology throughout history. Share your thoughts about this museum in the comments, whether you are a history buff or simply looking for a thrilling day out.

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