Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre

Amberley Museum

Amberley Museum

Amberley Museum

Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre is a museum at Amberley, near Arundel in West Sussex, England. The museum was founded in 1979 by the Southern Industrial History Centre Trust and has previously been known as the Amberley Working Museum, Amberley Chalk Pits Museum or plain Amberley Museum. It is a 36 acre (146,000 m2) open-air museum, next to Amberley railway station, dedicated to the industrial heritage of South East England and with a special interest in aspects of the history of communications and transport. The museum is sited in a former chalk quarry where the chalk was converted into lime for use in mortar and cement, and remaining on site are several kilns, including a De Witt set, and associated buildings including offices, bagging shed and locomotive shed. Also to be seen is the quarry tunnel (which appeared as Mainstrike Mine in the James Bond film A View to a Kill). Additional buildings have been relocated or replicated on the site and exhibition halls added. The natural history and geology of the site can be seen from a nature trail. The nature trail is very steep in places and is thus unsuitable fow wheelchair users.


There are a large number of exhibitions and buildings to explore. Connected Earth, the Telecommunications Hall gallery reflects the history of telecommunications through hands-on and traditional displays. Electricity Hall, with displays on a wide range of domestic electrical appliances. The exhibition also tells the story of the discovery of electricity. Vintage Wireless and Communications exhibition and Amateur radio station. Collection includes a variety of domestic, amateur and professional communications equipment. There is also an amateur radio station, which is sometimes in operation.


Amberley Museum Railway: a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway and railway exhibition hall devoted to British industrial narrow gauge railways. There are 45 locomotives, with 8 being steam powered, 29 internal combustion and 4 battery electric, and around 80 items of rolling stock, chiefly goods wagons, based largely on the collection of the former Brockham Museum (relocated here in 1982). There is special interest in railway material from the Dorking Greystone Lime Company and also from the Groudle Glen Railway in the Isle of Man. Of the 8 steam locos, only one is currently operational, but a further three are undergoing overhauls of one form or another. Southdown Bus garage, a reconstructed 1920s depot housing working buses chiefly from the local operator Southdown Motor Services based on the collection of the Southdown Omnibus Trust. Replica 1920's garage, home to a unique collection of restored vintage buses and an exhibition outlining the history of Southdown.


Wheelwright's Shop, from Horsham; Cartwheels of different stages of construction, are displayed. Machine Shop, Ironmonger's shop, Timber yard and Steam crane and the Village Garage, a reconstructed 1930s automobile repair shop. This last is a replicated 1930's garage, petrol station and Cycle Shop with equipment and tools of the period. Paviors Hall of Road Making, located in a 19th-century iron-framed industrial building relocated from Horsham. The Pavior's Museum is an exhibition on the development of roads and their construction. Also see the cycle display house within the building. There is a Rural telephone exchange, incorporating 1940s equipment from Coolham and an Arundel Gin Building, housing a metal foundry.


There is a Brickyard drying shed, late 19th century, from Petersfield, Hampshire. Do not miss the Concrete Exhibition. Fairmile Café, an authentic 1930s roadside building partly housing the Ted Page collection of domestic and agricultural artefacts. The Dover Cottage Pump House, from Arundel, and water pumping display. A Stationary engine shed, and Municipal engine house from Littlehampton. Fire Station, reproduction of a typical 1950s building completed in 2008 and now housing several roadworthy historic fire engines and an impressive collection of displays and exhibits primarily relating to the history of fire-fighting in Sussex.


There is a Toll bridge hut, from Littlehampton swing bridge, and a Printing Shop with historic printing equipment is housed and demonstrated. Items printed at the shop are for sale and include post cards, wrapping paper and notebooks. There is a Brewery display. A Cobbler's shop, with equipment from Bognor Regis and the Hall of Tools, with associated demonstrations by the Tools and Trades History Society. Built in 1905 - An exhibition 'Life and Lime' now tells the history of the local people involved in the quarrying of chalk and burning of lime on the Museum site, it features the De Witt kilns. The Pottery Workshop is a Working Pottery producing traditional and contemporary earthenware. Crafts demonstrated on site include woodturning, broom-making, walking stick-making and the work of the blacksmith and potters. Special events are held regularly.


The 36 acre site is mostly flat, with some slopes in places. There is a nature trail around the site, but this is inaccessible to wheelchairs, and possibly pushchairs depending on their design. Most of the site has either concrete or tarmac surfaces. Around the buildings the surface varies from paving slabs to brickwork, compact gravel or wood chippings. Most of the buildings that permit access to the public have a ramp on entrance or exit for access. They suggest that, if possible, visitors using wheelchairs should use those with wider tyres as this would make it an easier and a smoother visit. They do have a small selection of wheelchairs available on loan for visitors who might find this useful when visiting. Most of their exhibitions are on ground level. There are a few viewing platforms around the site which are accessible via steps, but most of the buildings themselves are all fully accessible via ramps. They have toilets at various locations around the site. There are disabled and baby changing facilities located in the Limeburners café, and below the museum office, accessed opposite the stationary engine shed. Due to the age of their buses, they do not currently have any that offer wheelchair access. There is the option of folding up smaller pushchairs to take on board. However, they do have a special wheelchair accessible carriage for their trains. This may not be in use every day, so please contact the museum to see if they can arrange it for you on your day of visit. Assistance dogs are welcome. Both the narrow-gauge railway and bus service provide free nostalgic travel around the site.


Location : Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre, Station Road, Amberley, Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9LT

Transport : Amberley (National Rail) then 2 minutes. Bus Routes : 73, 619 and 719 stop outside.

Opening Times : Click here for opening dates 10:00 to 17:00

Tickets : Adults £10.35;  Concessions £9.50;  Carer Free;  Children (4+) £6.00

Tel. : 01798 831370