The Museum of Lincolnshire Life is in Lincoln. The museum collection is a varied social history that reflects and celebrates the culture of Lincolnshire and its people from 1750 to the present day. Exhibits illustrate commercial, domestic, agricultural, industrial and community life. The museum is housed in a Victorian barracks built for the Royal North Lincoln Militia in 1857. It is a fine example of Victorian military architecture. The Militia were a force of part time volunteer soldiers whose main role was home defence. The Royal North Lincoln Militia used the barracks for training and administrative purposes and the site served as their headquarters until 1880. From this date the militia were based at the New Barracks (later Sobraon Barracks), also on Burton Road, which was headquarters to the Lincolnshire Regiment. In 1881 the Royal North Lincoln Militia officially amalgamated with the County Regiment to become the 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. For 20 years the site fell into relative disuse until in 1901 it was once again used by a military force. The Lincolnshire Imperial Yeomanry, a voluntary cavalry unit, used the barracks as its headquarters until it was disbanded in 1920.
The museum thought that it housed one of the first tanks developed during World War I by the local firm of William Foster & Co. of Lincoln. The tank was believed to be named "Flirt II", a Mark IV Female; however during the filming of inside the tank for the museum's new digital tour guides, a different serial number was discovered than the one that was expected. This led to the discovery that this tank was called "Daphne" and not "Flirt II". They were two completely different tanks. Research has shown that she was issued to the 12th Company, D Battalion of the Tank Corps. She was mentioned in regimental diaries as having been involved in the attacks at Passchendale in August 1917.
The unusual rhomboidal shape was to give as long a track run as possible to allow for crossing the wide trenches prevalent on the Western Front battlefields. The heavy tanks were designated "male" or "female" according to the type of armament they carried in the sponsons fitted to their sides. The prototype mounted a 6-pounder (57 mm) cannon and a Hotchkiss machine gun in each. The designers were concerned that the slow-moving vehicles would be vulnerable to attack by enemy infantry, and decided that dedicated anti-personnel weaponry was necessary. Case-shot was not available for the 6-pounder guns, so it was decided to design a new sponson that would instead house two Vickers guns. Tanks fitted with the new design were designated "female", and those with the protruding 6-pounder, "male". This had the side-effect of making the prototype "Mother" a "male".
The first tank was built in Lincoln by William Foster & co. To keep it secret it was known during it's development as 'Water Carrier for Mesopotamia'. This became shortened by the workforce to 'water tank' and eventually it was shortened again to 'tank' and the word entered the English language. Foster's, as builders of agricultural machinery, were involved in the production and design of the prototype tanks, which were, in effect, agricultural tractors with armoured bodies. After the First World War, The Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors decided that the inventors of the tank were Sir William Tritton, managing director of Fosters together with Major Walter Wilson.
The museum also has exhibits featuring recreations of old shops, house interiors along with an extensive collection of early farm machinery, with examples of machines built by local companies, such as the Field Marshall tractor built in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire by Marshall, Sons & Co. Two early Ruston-Bucyrus excavators are on display in the yard, an RB4 of 1929 and an RB17 of 1937; these were delivered to the museum by a crew from Ruston-Bucyrus headed by Richard Phillips. This museum is well worth a visit with it's cornucopia of fascinating and unusual exhibits.
The entrance to the majority of the Museum galleries is from the Reception area, across the open courtyard, at ground floor level with step free access. Further galleries are located upstairs in the Gatehouse which is accessed by stairs from Reception (22 steps in two flights), or a lift which accommodates two people at a time (one of whom may be in a wheelchair). An audio-visual, digital guide is available to give information about the museum and the historic barracks building in which it is housed (£1 charge applies). Public toilets within the Museum are located on the ground floor with access from the lobby between the Regimental and Transport galleries, and from the Gatehouse Tea Room. Each of the toilet locations has a unisex accessible toilet with level access, and a key is not required to access them. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Ellis' Mill is nearby the Museum and the two are easily combined. This wonderful Lincoln mill is located on Mill Road, so called due to the nine windmills that formerly faced west over the steep slopes of the Lincoln Edge. Ellis Mill is now the sole survivor of these mills and an excellent example of a small tower mill. The Mill dates from 1798 but there has been a mill on this site from at least the middle of the 17th century. The first recorded owner of Ellis Mill was a wealthy landowner named Anthony Meres. It went through a succession of owners until December 1894 when John Ellis bought the mill for £250. He died in 1920, but his wife and son successively retained ownership until 1973. The mill was worked until the 1940s when the machinery was removed and it fell into dereliction. Tragedy struck further when a fire finally destroyed all of the remaining woodwork in 1974. The Lincoln Civic Trust acquired the Mill in March 1977 and set about its restoration. First, the tower was cleaned and the floors and cap re-constructed. It was then necessary for replacement parts to be found that fitted the dimensions of the existing tower. The cap mechanism was acquired from ‘Subscription Mill’ in Sturton-by-Stow and the stones and drives from ‘Eno’s Mill’ at Toynton-all-Saints. The sails and fantail were built and erected by Thompson and Co., millwrights from Alford.
The Mill is still in full working order and provides flour, subject to sufficiently windy days! The Mill is now managed by Lincolnshire County Council but would not run without the group of devoted volunteers who help maintain, staff and promote the site. It will be some of these volunteers who guide you around the mill. Please note that due to the nature of the Mill it is only partially accessible to wheelchair users and mobility impaired visitors. Free car parking is available at the nearby Museum of Lincolnshire Life with disabled parking available at the Mill itself.
Location : Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Burton Road, Lincoln LN1 3LY
Location : Ellis Mill, Mill Road, Lincoln LN1 3JJ
Transport: Lincoln Central (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 7, 17, 541, 800, A8 and PC25 stop outside.
Opening Times Museum: Daily 10:00 to 16:30
Opening Times Mill: Daily 14:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Free admission to Museum and the Mill
Tel: 01522 782040