One hundred years ago massive metal war war horses clanked and clunked their way onto the battlefields of France. Devised as a weapon to break the stalemate of the trench warfare, the tank has gone on to become a symbol of the modern army.
The Tank Museum at Bovington is the best collection of armoured fighting vehicles in the world. It includes the first tank to be made, a fearsome array of German panzers from the Second World War, and comes up to date with the Challenger 2, which is still in service today.
There’s a lot more to the museum than rows of static vehicles. The displays are designed to tell the story of the tank in ways that both educate and entertain. You can explore inside some of the large early tanks, and throughout the spacious halls there are plenty of hands-on activities giving children, as well as adults, to do more than just look and read.
When you visit you may get the chance to see some of the tanks being moved around on the roads around the museum. To be certain of enjoying some action, you can book for one of the museum’s event days.
The Tank Museum also offer behind-the-scenes guided tours and tank experience days. All their events are massively popular and many sell-out well in advance.
Almost since their inception, tanks have been associated with Dorset. In October 1916 the Bovington barracks became the base for the Heavy Branch Machine Gun Corps, the first troops to use tanks. Once the war was over, a selection of the vehicles were spared being broken up and these became the core of today’s collection.
Given Dorset’s early connections with thanks, it’s no surprise that the county hosts the UK’s museum of these military monsters.
The Tank Museum won’t appeal to everyone, but for many it’s a fascinating outing. Give yourself a good two to three hours to do it thoroughly.
Distance from Weymouth: 15 miles, a 30 minute drive.