Yesterday we went to Winterbourne Gardens, at their invitation, for their Steam Day. The gardens are run by the University of Birmingham and feature an Edwardian Arts and Crafts house as well as beautifully laid out gardens. Difficult to believe that you are only a couple of miles from the city centre when you are walking round. The Steam Day was a special event and we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Sadly the day was a bit of a washout weather wise, which was a pity as it wasn’t so pleasant to see some of the bigger engines outside.
We spent a lot of time inside enjoying the intricate steam toys. H is very interested in engineering matters, so he enjoyed seeing the clever workings of steam toys. He was able to compare some of the mechanisms to the way he uses his Lego to make machines. The little machines beaver away and it’s almost hypnotic to watch.
There was a lot to see inside with steam toys set up in both the house and the outbuildings. Each stand was manned by enthusiasts willing to answer questions and talk about their hobby. H particularly like the ones that were based on children’s toys like Meccano: I think he liked the idea of building something similar himself.
It would be a shame to go to Winterbourne and not explore the lovely gardens, so we braved the rain to have a little wander round. To start with we were trying to track down a machine we could hear in the grounds, but it soon became clear that it was the sound of hockey sticks on balls on the playing fields of the school next door. Parts of the gardens have a tropical look which looks very at home in the rain. We wandered onto the neighbouring golf club grounds (you are allowed) to see a large lake with lots of water birds, in their element in the downpour.
Winterbourne Gardens are open through most of the year and admission for adults is from £5.45. There are family tickets and concessions available, plus it’s very good value to get a season ticket if you live close enough to visit regularly.