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Countryside Museum

Take a trip down memory lane at the Countryside Museum and see many restored artefacts and machinery of rural life from days gone by.
The exhibition hall is packed with nostalgic delights for all generations including traction engines, vintage machinery, traditional tools, tractors and domestic memorabilia that trace the history of rural life at Bicton and elsewhere in Britain over the last three centuries.

Do-it-yourself has taken on a new meaning since the times, not so long ago, when day-to-day survival in rural areas, for all but the very rich, depended upon a constant grind of DIY jobs. Craft workers fared a little better and their products and tools are among the artefacts on display at Bicton.

Bicton was a busy estate in the 19th century. Employees brought a multitude of skills to the tasks of developing the ornamental gardens, cultivating kitchen gardens, running the farm, managing woodlands, controlling vermin and maintaining the mansion. All of these jobs are reflected in the museums exhibits.

An 1831 hand-operated fire engine, kept at Bicton House for 100 years, would no doubt have seen action in 1874 when a blaze in the mansion’s east wing caused considerable damage.

The Reg Imray Motorcycle and Car Collection

Vintage vehicle collector Reg Imray, 90, who has been deaf since birth, was born on April 8, 1922. Since the age of 19, he has built up an impressive collection of more than 40 classic cars and motorcycles some of which are on display in Bicton Park Botanical Gardens Country Life Museum.

Reg, who said his hobby had become his life, is proud of his record of never having an accident after more than 70 years behind the wheel.

Reg’s love for motorbikes began when he was just eight years old, after his school teacher told him he would never own a motorbike because he was deaf – making him ‘determined’ to own one.

The vintage vehicle enthusiast first owned a motorbike during World War Two when he paid his dad £10 for his first BSA.

Reg’s wish to become a pilot and fly a Spitfire during WWII was thwarted because of his deafness. Instead, he supported the war effort, making de Havilland Mosquitos.  His services were rewarded when Geoffrey de Havilland presented him with a medal for his work.

The museum really is a treat for all ages, and features a unique collection of historic artefacts that you will have difficulty finding elsewhere.