The Shuttleworth Collection is an aeronautical and automotive museum in Bedfordshire, There’s a museum which houses vintage aircraft and vehicles as well as some beautiful gardens. They also have special events there throughout the year. It is a charity but as of September 2019 it would cost £21 adult and £3 child to do both. HOWEVER we’ve discovered that there’s also a large play area there which you can use for FREE on NON-EVENT days and do some plane-spotting for free too, and it’s free to park, so in the school holidays in 2019 we decided to investigate and decide if it was worth a visit just for the stuff you can do for free.
Where is the Shuttleworth Collection?
The address for the Shuttleworth Collection is Old Warden Aerodrome, Nr Biggleswade, Bedfordshire SG18 9EP and it’s about 30 minutes from where we live in Milton Keynes. When we went in August 2019 and at that point their website said it was open every day apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. It’s free to park and free to go in the play are BUT before travelling please check their website as if they have a special event on they may restrict access to the site to ticket holders only.
What can you see at the Shuttleworth Collection for free on a normal day?
There’s an airfield where small planes take off and land. What you might see really depends on the day. When we went we saw a plane being moved from one of the hangars to the airfield. Then we spoke to the pilot who was going to be flying later that day. We saw a couple of other planes taking off. There were a couple of picnic benches there but you had to stand at the edge of the field to see the planes. My two sons aged six and four at the time of visiting enjoyed talking to the pilot and liked plane-spotting for a while.
What’s the play area at the Shuttleworth Collection like?
It’s unusual and there’s LOADS of play equipment. These pictures don’t really do it justice. I need to get a drone and take one from above to show you. But imagine a tree on the floor with lots of branches. Well it’s shaped a bit like that – there’s lots of individual play areas off the main path. The main benefit is that there’s lots of them and when we went many were empty. It gives the children lots of variety. The disadvantages are that they could easily run off and you’d be wondering which one they’re playing in. The play equipment is metal so has more of a retro feel to it and some is more suitable for older children – although there were enough smaller climbing frames for my 4 year old to enjoy.
What else do we need to know about the Shuttleworth Collection and where else can we go?
There is a cafe – we had a drink – seemed nice, although to keep costs down we general take a picnic wherever we go. There are picnic benches. The paths were accessible. You just had to go across some grass if you wanted to get a closer look at the planes. There are loos. Overall it was somewhere fun to visit, you could easily spend a few hours there if the kids enjoy watching planes and lots of different play equipment. Because it’s about half an hour drive for us, we combined it with a visit to Jordan’s Mill where we met friends. I’m yet to write it up, but if you’re interested then it’s free to park and there’s pretty gardens, a woodland area and a nice cafe there. The postcode is SG18 9JY. Jordan’s Mill is about 7 minute drive from Shuttleworth.
We enjoyed the Shuttleworth Collection, where else can we go?
If you enjoyed seeing the planes then I’d definitely recommend RAF Hendon which is a museum in North London. It’s free to visit. You just pay to park. The cost of parking has increased since my review. It houses loads of planes and a new play area has opened since we last visited. And if you love good play areas then do look at the parks section of this website for loads of free parks.
I'm Laura, mum of two boys - aged six and four. I started this website at the end of Sept 2015 whilst on maternity leave. I now work four days a week and do this blog late at night once the little boys are sleeping. It's won several awards over the last four years and I continue to run it for free and mostly focus on free, cheap, and good value days out. Do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contact me. Don't forget to follow all of our latest adventures on facebook, instagram and twitter and have a look at all of the videos of the places we visit on the Milton Keynes Kids YouTube Channel - subscribe to it for notifications every time I add a new place. And remember... you may been reading this post months after we visited, do check with the destination you're visiting for up to date opening times and prices. If you find this blog useful then please do comment on my posts and leave me a Facebook review - it makes doing this all the more worthwhile.