In 1916 the British War Office established the Bovington camp as a tank crew training facility. At that time the Army was introducing tanks into the First World War in an attempt to break the stagnation of trench warfare. In 1919 the tanks returned to Bovington from France. Many of them were fit only for scrap. However, a small number of the least damaged vehicles were put to one side so that tank crews and designers could have an idea of the tank's early heritage. In 1923 the writer Rudyard Kipling visited Bovington and recommended a museum should be set up. The collection grew greatly after the Second World War, as many Allied and captured Axis tanks were added. In 1947 it was opened to the general public. The Tank Museum has continued to expand and today it is primarily seen as a means of educating and entertaining the general public, with the exhibition being geared in this direction. Many of the tanks are in complete working order and can be seen in action throughout summer months in special displays. The museum holds an annual TankFest display of their operating vehicles and visiting vehicles.
There are currently 8 exhibitions on display. 1 - The Tank Story. Follow the story of the tank, from its invention in 1915 through the 20th Century and into the future. Guided by accounts from veterans, you’ll see 35 of the most important tanks in history, with a fascinating supporting collection housed in a vast state of the art multimedia exhibition. 2 - The Trench Experience. Walk in the footsteps of a World War One Soldier – from the recruiting office to the front line trenches. Find out why the tank was invented to break the stalemate on the Somme. See the first tank attack in history. 3 - Warhorse to Horsepower. Explore the rise of the tank and the role of the cavalry in the mud of the Western Front in an interactive and immersive experience. Hear the stories straight from the horse’s mouth. 4 - Second World War. The broadest and finest collection of tanks in the world; almost 150 vehicles representing 26 countries spanning 100 years of history. Interactive stations explain the concepts of armoured warfare and the Activity Zone gives the kids an opportunity to get creative. Understand the impact of the Army on Dorset and the history of Bovington; including an exhibition about T.E Lawrence and his time in the Tank Corps. Find out how tanks have changed throughout history and how different tanks are used in different ways. Learn what it is like to be a tank crewman in the cut-in-half Centurion.
5 - Fury,The Exhibition tells the story of The Museum's involvement in the film. 6 - Battlegroup Afghanistan. The men of the Royal Armoured Corps have been involved in some of the fiercest fighting since World War Two. Explore a recreated Forward Operating Base, experience the living conditions of the modern solider. See a range of new vehicles used in Afghanistan. Hear first hand accounts from soldiers who have fought there. 7 - Vehicle Conservation Centre. The Vehicle Conservation Centre (VCC) houses over 100 vehicles, many of which have never been on public display before. 8 - The Tank Factory. Explore the design and manufacture of British armoured vehicles from 1916 to the present. Hear the stories of the men and women who built these complex war machines. See a tank production line and design your own tank!
The Tank Museum is based on 3 floors with lift and ramp access to all floors, you should allow about 3 hours to see all the museum, there a number of wheelchairs available to borrow from the main reception. Wardens are also on hand throughout the museum if you should require any assistance. The museum has 5 fully accessible toilets situated in the main building and the vehicle conservation building. These toilets are unisex and you do not need a special key to open them. Assistance dogs (only) are welcome. All children aged 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult, aged 18 or over.
Location : The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset, BH20 6JG
Transport: Wool (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 103 and 104 stop outside.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 - 17:00
Tickets : Adults £13.00; Children £7.50
Tel: 01929 405096