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Winding House
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Winding House selected as 1 of top 6 Family Friendly Museums in the UK

The Winding House is the first museum in Wales in 10 years to have been shortlisted for the award

The Winding House has reached the final stage of this year’s Telegraph & Kids in Museums’ “Family Friendly Museum Award”.

The Award – Britain’s biggest museum award and the only one to be judged by families – considers which museums across the UK go that extra mile to welcome and engage family visitors.

After a record 800 nominations for museums across the country, the Winding house was 1 of 20 museums to be longlisted in May. Those 20 have now been whittled down to a shortlist of just 6, chosen by a panel of experts including historian and broadcastor Helen Castor, celebrity author and Kids in Museums Patron, Damian Dibben and Sharon Heal, Director of the Museums Association. The 6 museums shortlisted were selected as the top family friendly museums in Britain – and the Winding House has made the cut! It is the first time for nearly 10 years that a museum in Wales has been shortlisted for the award.

Baroness Kay Andrews, Trustee of Kids in Museums, says:

 "I’m delighted to see that the Winding House is listed for the very prestigious Kids in Museums Award - what a great choice - and what a great win for Wales and its wonderful family-friendly museums! The Winding House is all that a museum should be, surprising visitors and local families and children alike with great story telling and involving everyone, especially children, in curating and understanding their history and their place in it.  And so much of it is thanks to volunteers as well. Well done Winding House

Principal Museums and Heritage Officer Helen Willson says, “ we were thrilled to be longlisted in May as being among the 20 most family friendly museums in the UK. To have now been selected as being among the top 6 - reaching the final stage of the award -  is such an exciting achievement and huge credit to all our staff and volunteers who do their utmost to provide a warm and friendly welcome and enjoyable experience for all our visitors. Since opening in 2009, we have always placed families at the heart of everything we do and we are very proud to be shortlisted for in this year’s Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award.”

Dea Birkett, Director of Kids in Museums says: “‘We’re delighted that the Winding House has been shortlisted for the Family Friendly Museum Award – the biggest museum award in Britain and the only one where families pick the winner. It’s the first time a museum in Wales has been shortlisted for ten years, so it’s a particularly special and exciting achievement to have gathered such huge support from visitors, volunteers and staff. The Winding House manages to be firmly rooted in the community, involving local people in their history, as well as offering activities and insights that would rival any museum in Britain. Most of all, they listen to their visitors, empowering them about their past, supporting them in their futures.’

Throughout the summer, “undercover” family judges will visit each shortlisted museum and judge it for its family friendly qualities. The eventual winner will be announced on Thursday 24th September at a special ceremony at the Telegraph newspaper offices.  

Winding House judged 1 of most family friendly museums in Britain!

The Winding House has been judged one of the top 20 family friendly museums in Britain and is in the running for the UK’s biggest museum prize, the Kids in Museums’ “Family Friendly Museum Award”.

The Award is sponsored by Telegraph Newspaper Group and gets more nominations than any other museum award in Britain, and probably in the world! It considers which museums go that extra mile to welcome and engage family visitors and this year has seen a record number of more than 800 nominations for museums across the UK. Visitors have said in their hundreds where they’ve had the best family days out at a museum from the tip of Cornwall to Morayshire. A panel of volunteers whittled 800 visitor nominations down to just 20 museums - those judged to be the very best at welcoming families and the Winding House is one of them! It is also the only museum from Wales to feature.

Dea Birkett, Director, Kids in Museums says, “It’s great that the Winding House has made it to the longlist for the Family Friendly Museum Award – the biggest museum award in Britain and the only one judged by families, so it’s a very special endorsement. There were over 800 nominations this year, so the competition was very tough. The Winding House stood out as a museum that provided a wide range of activities for all the family, of any age. Families pointed out the particularly warm welcome. The museum also demonstrated commitment to listening to families and their needs. The Winding House is an excellent example of a small local museum making a big impact.’”

Other museums longlisted for the award include Hampton Court Palace, the Science Museum in London and the Cutty Sark.

The longlist of 20 will be put before a panel of experts, including Kids in Museums' Patron and celebrity children’s author Damian Dibben and historian and broadcaster Helen Castor. They will then choose a shortlist of six museums that will be road-tested anonymously by family judges who will choose the best.

Principal Museums and Heritage Officer, Helen Willson said, “we are absolutely over the moon to have been longlisted for this year’s Family Friendly Museum Award. We work very hard to ensure that our exhibitions and events programme are lively, engaging and appealing to families so we are thrilled to be included in the top 20 best family friendly museums in the UK. It is a real credit to all our staff and volunteers who do their very best to make families, and all visitors, welcome.”

Cllr. Ken James, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Planning & Sustainable Development said: “This is fantastic news for the Winding House and a truly well-deserved award recognising the great efforts staff and volunteers make to ensure families have a first class experience.  Being the only museum in Wales to make the long list highlights what a fantastic achievement this is, and I’m sure it will encourage even more families to join the thousands of visitors each year who enjoy exploring the past at the Winding House.” 

First in Wales

Vintage shop "Rempod" - first of many PopUp reminiscence rooms to be displayed at the Winding House

The Winding House Museum is set to become Wales’ first Dementia Friendly reminiscence centre, offering a variety of activities throughout the museum. All their staff are now ‘Dementia Friends’ and they are working with the Alzheimer’s Society and Caerphilly 50+ Positive Action to tailor their exhibitions and creating new displays that encourage reminiscence, so that Carers, relatives and those living with dementia are also able to enjoy the museum.

A regular feature will be one of the Social Services Reminiscence pop up ‘rooms’ evoking key places and periods of the past such as the local pub or a 1950s living room with lots of hands on activities for people to engage with.  The Winding House will add to these rooms a display of local items from the museum’s collection to give the Pod a local twist.

Cllr Christine Forehead the Member Champion for Older People commented, “It is great to see the Winding House leading the way in creating a Dementia Supportive environment. It means that people living with dementia like anyone else can pop in, have a cup of tea and cake and enjoy this lovely museum.” 

War at the Winding House and VE Day commemorations

The county museum, the Winding House is stepping back to the 1940s this May for a month of commemorations and reflections on the Second World War and the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

A special month-long Pop-Up exhibition “Keep Calm and Carry On” opens on Saturday 2nd May – 31st May. Discover the impact of the Second World War on the local area through displays, objects and original film. Admission is free.

The museum is also holding a series of Second World War themed events – from drop-in days, to family crafts, from a classic War film to a toe-tapping tea dance!

Step back to the time of rationing and “make do and mend” with some 1940s family crafts on Saturday 9th May (2-3pm). Make and take your own Wartime peg-soldier or lady  - booking is essential, and the session costs £1.50 per child.

Why not dust off your dancing shoes for a very special Museums at Night event on Friday 15th May with a 1940s Tea Dance?  Relax and unwind to the sounds of Glenn Miller, Swing and more Wartime favourites. If you want to come in 1940s costume, all the better! Entertainment will also be provided by local vintage cabaret singer, Donna Darlington, and refreshments will be available. The 1940sTea Dance takes place between 4-6pm on Friday 15th May. Admission is free although booking is essential.

On Sunday 17th May, classic film, “The Man Who Never Was” will be showing at the museum. Find out more about the Allied intelligence mission and military hoax, “Operation Mincemeat”, with its unique link to Caerphilly County Borough. The film will start at 1.45pm. Admission is free although booking is essential.

Discover more about life on the Home Front with a hands-on day of Fashions and Rations on Saturday 23rd May (11am-4pm). How was clothing, make up, food and other aspects of daily life affected by the War? Explore “Make Do and Mend” to “doing your bit”. Just drop-in to join in.

And finally, on the Spring Bank Holiday, Monday 25th May, join in a day for all the family - Keep Calm and Explore: life in the 1940s, with replica objects, handling sessions, costume and more. Drop in between 11am and 4pm to take part.

Winding House gets top marks for educational visits

Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge

The County Borough museum, the Winding House in New Tredegar has shown itself to be at the top of the class for educational visits by being awarded a Learning Outside the Classroom (LotC) Quality Badge.

Awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the LOtC Quality Badge combines for the first time learning and safety into one easily recognisable badge for all organisations providing learning outside the classroom experiences.

Winding House Learning Officer, Mark Batchelder said “Being awarded the LOtC Quality Badge is a real coup for us  as it shows that we offer young people the type of high quality learning experiences they really benefit from. We're thrilled to get official recognition for our efforts and we look forward to welcoming even more children and young people from the local area to our museum.”

The LOtC Quality Badge was launched in 2009 as part of the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto, a national initiative to ensure young people are given more opportunities to have these experiences as part of the curriculum. The LOtC Quality Badge is awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the national voice for Learning Outside the Classroom. The Council also provides free online guidance and information for teachers on how to plan and organise high quality activities. The LOtC Quality Badge is designed to make it easier for teachers to identify providers of quality educational visits. Organisations will display the LOtC Quality Badge as a signal to schools that their venue has met required standards, so teachers do not need to carry out their own risk or quality assessments.

Elaine Skates, Acting Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom said:

 “Educational visits are among the most memorable experiences in a child’s school life.  The LOtC Quality Badge offers teachers a guarantee that not only is a venue providing the sort of educational value that they can build on in class long after the visit but they also have the appropriate risk management structures in place.

Learning outside the classroom has many proven educational benefits. The LOtC Quality Badge will reduce red tape and provide assurance for schools, thereby ensuring that many more young people have memorable, exciting and valuable learning outside the classroom experiences. I congratulate the Winding House on being awarded the LOtC Quality Badge.”

The LOtC Quality Badge is available to large and small organisations providing quality learning outside the classroom experiences and managing risk effectively. Almost 1,000 organisations have already been awarded the LOtC Quality Badge, including museums, adventurous activity and field study centres, places of worship, art galleries, visitor attractions, student travel companies and farms.

For more information about the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge, please visit 

Visit World War One Bunker To Share Your Story

During February and March, community arts organisation Head4Arts will be bringing a very unusual vehicle to key locations in the county boroughs of Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly.

What looks like a World War one bunker – complete with artefacts and memorabilia is in fact Head4Arts’ transit van, imaginatively transformed in 20 minutes into a mobile studio to raise awareness of First World War centenary.

Local people will be invited to visit “the bunker” to record their family stories, memories and responses to the conflict as part of   “World War One: A Valleys View”- a project that has recently received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund,

With the help of professionals from Breaking Barriers Community Arts, visitors will be able to contribute to a series of digital stories that document the impact of the First World War on Valleys communities.    Also, members of the public are being encouraged to bring along with them their own World War One related family heirlooms , such as letters, photographs, medals or newspaper articles,  so that these items can be included as part of their story.   Experts from the Winding House Museum and Merthyr Tydfil Libraries will be on hand to provide historical information and tips on family research

The stories collected will be used to create a digital record that preserves the memories and heritage of those who lived through the war.  This will be uploaded as an online resource and will be used for display at local museums in order to help more people learn about this important period of history.

This intriguing “bunker van” will start its tour of the local area at the Twyn, Caerphilly and Blackwood Town Centre on Thursday 19th February.  It will then visit Merthyr Tydfil Central Library on Tuesday 24th February and the Winding House Museum on Saturday 28th February.  On Tuesday 3rd March the van will be located in Treharris Library before ending its journey at Dowlais Library on Wednesday 4th March.  Please check Head4Arts website and social media pages for timing and further details.  Participation in the project is free of charge and all members of the public are welcome to come along and join in.

Major new First World War exhibition launched at the Winding House

A view of the trench section in the exhibition

A major new exhibition to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War has been launched  at the Winding House museum in New Tredegar.

The exhibition 'Our Duty to Bear – the First World War and Caerphilly county borough', which explores how the war affected men, women and children across Caerphilly county borough was unveiled on Friday 1st August by the Mayor of Caerphilly County Borough Council.

From the Western Front to the Home Front, the exhibition explores local experiences of the War through carefully curated objects, images, film and sound. Personal and poignant loans from the wider local community form a central role in the exhibition, which will run from Saturday 2nd August through to Autumn 2015.

Visitors to the Winding House will have the opportunity to discover the experiences of the people from Caerphilly county borough during the First World War and how the war impacted on their lives; from the young Caerphilly pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, to the escaped Prisoner of War from New Tredegar; from the mother from Fleur de Lys with two sons both killed at the age of 19, to the conscientious objector Morgan Jones; and from the Blackwood miner who joined the tunnelling regiment, to the young girl from Tirphil writing to her daddy to ask him to come home from the war.

Discover also what life was like was for those at home – knitting 'comforts', sending food parcels and experiencing changing roles for women in work and society.

Cllr Ken James, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Sustainable Development and Planning said, "Just over a year ago during the early stages of the planning process, the Winding House team sent out a plea to the wider local community for poignant, treasured items associated with the First World War that could be loaned to this outstanding collection, and the response was truly overwhelming. What the team, supported very much by a large group of volunteers and local residents, has achieved in delivering this exhibition is a series of extremely powerful and emotive displays which truly capture the experiences and struggles faced by local people 100 years ago".

He continued: "I would encourage as many people as possible to come along to explore and learn about the personal stories of more than 60 families from across Caerphilly county borough during the First World War in this extremely emotive exhibition", he added.

The exhibition also includes original film footage from the First World War period, as well as a reconstructed trench section and recollections of the Battle of the Somme from a local soldier – in his own words – from a recording made in the 1970s.

Staff and pupils from nearby Lewis School Pengam have also played a key role in the creation of the exhibition; within the collection are a series of letters written by former pupils to their old teacher, Arthur Wright during the First World War. Current pupils at the school have recorded readings of these letters aloud, which also feature in the exhibition.

'Our Duty to Bear – the First World War and Caerphilly county borough' is part of the Imperial War Museum's First World War Centenary Partnership. The Winding House is open Tuesday to Sunday – 10am until 5pm, and is open also on Bank Holiday Mondays. Admission is FREE.

Winding House voted a Top 10 Valleys Essential!

During January and February, 2011 visitors and residents were urged to vote for their favourite Valleys attraction in a ‘Top 50’ poll launched by The Valleys Heart and Soul marketing campaign and ‘Rough Guide’ author Mike Parker.

The results are in and the Winding House has been voted a Top 10 Valleys Essential! The museum was unfortunately not on Mike Parker’s original list of 50 Valleys Essentials but so many visitors and members of the public voted for the Winding House to be included in the Top 50 that it topped “The People’s Choice” and went straight to number 9!

A special launch took place in Sidoli’s Café in Ebbw Vale on 14th March and the museum was presented with a plaque in recognition of its achievement. The Winding House even had a mention that morning on Jamie and Louise’s show on BBC Radio Wales!

Museum staff are thrilled at the result especially as the Winding House gained its spot through the ‘People’s Choice’ vote, which shows how important the museum is to the local community and sincerely thank everyone who voted!

Find out more:

Published March, 2012.

Winding House voted one of top 10 museums in Wales

Caerphilly county borough’s museum, the Winding House in New Tredegar, has been voted one of the top 10 museums in Wales in a public poll.

The campaign, run by Wales Online to coincide with the first ever Welsh Museums Festival, asked members of the public to vote for their two favourite museums in Wales. Voters were asked for their favourite amongst the national museums (St Fagans, Big Pit, the National Slate Museum, Swansea Waterfront Museum, the National Wool Museum, the Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon and the National Museum, Cardiff) and also for their favourite ‘other’, non-national museum.

Topping the national museum poll was St Fagans, while in the ‘other’ museum category, the Winding House - one of the youngest museums in the list - was voted in at number four.

The museum in New Tredegar has been open just five years and in that time has seen its collection of social and industrial history objects from Caerphilly county borough grow from 1,500 to over 12,500 – mostly through donations from members of the public. The museum has also welcomed nearly 70,000 visitors - from New Tredegar to New South Wales - and has seen its regularly changing temporary exhibition programme grow increasingly in profile. The current exhibition, ‘Our Duty to Bear’ – the First World War and Caerphilly county borough has already welcomed over 3,000 visitors since its opening in August and was the only exhibition in Wales singled out in a recent Sunday Times article about First World War commemorative events.

Cllr Ken James, Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Planning & Sustainable Development, said: “The Winding House has gone from strength to strength since it opened five years ago. This public vote is a fantastic indication of the strength of support for the museum among the local and wider community. Congratulations to everyone at the Winding House  - both staff and volunteers - who work so hard to deliver such an excellent museum service for the local community and for visitors to the County Borough.”


Winding House wins special new national commendation award!

The Winding House museum in New Tredegar is celebrating after being awarded a ‘Special Commendation for Outstanding Contribution to their Local Community’ in this year’s Kids in Museums, Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award. This is the first time any museum has been given such a commendation and is in recognition of the testimonies local families gave to their museum, saying how much it meant to them. One visitor commented, ““It’s a brilliant museum for families, hands on and the whole experience is a two-way thing.”

Dea Birkett, Director, Kids in Museums says,

“We’ve never given a special commendation for working with the local community before, but nominations from local families for Winding House were so powerful we wanted to acknowledge their excellence in this field. The undercover family judges who were sent out to the six shortlisted museums reported back that Winding House was particularly committed to serving their community, welcoming families, supporting and enabling them to discover their own heritage. They listened, shared and included. They deserve this special award.”

Winding House staff receiving their award from Minister of State for Culture, Ed Vaizey MP (right) and Kids in Museums President, Philip Mould


They were pipped to the post by 120-year-old Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, Cumbria which shone through as the most welcoming on all counts, from the temporary exhibitions to the toilets. The Family Friendly Museum Award is the biggest museum award in Britain. This year, the Award broke all previous records with over 850 nominations, from tiny one-roomed galleries to museums of international reputation. It’s the only Award where families pick the winner.

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport & Tourism added,

“Congratulations to the Winding House for achieving such special recognition. We want to see more people participating in culture and heritage, which brings many educational and social opportunities, so it is very encouraging that the Winding House is making its museum welcoming and enjoyable for families.“

Principal Museums and Heritage Officer Helen Willson says “We are absolutely thrilled to have been given this special new award by the Telegraph and Kids in Museums. To be given a national award for “outstanding contribution to our local community” – and to have inspired the award’s creation in the first place –  is testament to all the hard work undertaken by staff and volunteers to ensure that the Winding House is not only family friendly but that we engage with our community in the best way we can. We are incredibly proud of this achievement.”

Principle Museums and Heritage Officer, Helen Willson (left) and Museums and Heritage Officer, Emma Wilson with Kids in Museums Patron, Dan Snow

The winner and special commendation were announced on Thursday 24 September at an award ceremony. Amongst the celebrity guests were historian, author and Kids in Museums Patron Dan Snow; broadcaster, art expert and Kids in Museums President Philip Mould; and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey.



Visit Wales Accredited AttractionValleys Essentails Top 10

The Winding House project was financed by the
European Union's Objective 1 Programme, the Welsh Assembly Goverment
and Caerphilly County Borough Council.

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