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Cool Britannia: The Best of British History in Nine Museums

The UK is well-known for its amazing museums. Drawing in over 92 million visitors a year, they are popular among tourists and Brits alike.... the UK's variety of museums reflects the diversity of British history - from the influence of the Fab Four to the time of Viking invasion.

The UK is well-known for its amazing museums. Drawing in over 92 million visitors a year, they are popular among tourists and Brits alike.

Documenting virtually any period of British or world history, the UK's variety of museums reflects the diversity of British history - from the influence of the Fab Four to the time of Viking invasion. With so much to choose from, is on hand to bring you the best of British history in 9 museums.

Source: Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

Lancashire is often cited as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, making Manchester the world's first industrialised city. The Museum of Science and Industry, or MOSI, plays homage to the influence the city has had on transport, power, sewerage and sanitation, textiles, communication and computing from the 18th century to the modern age. Highly interactive, the museum has plenty of demonstrations and educational games. The museum also organises an annual science festival in Manchester.

MOSI occupies a special place in Manchester, located at the former Manchester Liverpool Road Station - the world's first passenger train station. Heritage steam trains still run at weekends.

Source: Jorvik Viking Centre

Billed as a "time-warp experience" rather than a museum, the Jorvik Viking Centre is the closest you can get to Viking life in Great Britain. Opened 30 years ago on the site of one of the most extensive excavation projects in UK history, the centre presents life in York as it would have been 1,000 years ago, when the city (then called Jorvik) was ruled by Norse settlers.

The experience recreates the sights, sounds and even smells of the Viking era, as visitors walk through the excavated grounds and examine discovered artefacts - right in the heart of York city.

Source: Imperial War Museum, Credit: © IWM'

One of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum, the Churchill War Rooms offer a completely unique insight into wartime Britain. The Cabinet War Rooms were constructed shortly before the outbreak of World War II and used throughout the conflict. War strategy was decided here, with Churchill famously proclaiming, "This is the room from which I will direct the war."

Today, the war rooms are preserved almost exactly as they were left in 1945. Visitors can explore the maze-like tunnels, experience life in the bunker and learn more about Churchill's life in the interactive museum.

4. The Beatles Story - Liverpool

Source: The Beatles Story

One of the most important cultural exports in the history of the United Kingdom came in the form of four lads from Liverpool. John, Paul, George and Ringo went on to change the course of music history and this popular museum plays homage to their humble beginnings in Merseyside, charting their phenomenal rise to success throughout the 1960s.

Featuring replicas of the Casbah, John Lennon's Imagine room and Mathew Street and the Cavern, as well as a 4D film on the success of the group, the museum is a firm fan-favourite, drawing in visitors from around the world.

5. British Museum - London

Source: British Museum, Credit: © The Trustees of the British Museum

One of the largest museums in the world, the British Museum is dedicated to human history and culture around the world. The most visited historic institution in the country, its permanent collection has over 8 million pieces, making it one the most extensive in existence. Originally founded in 1753, it grew along with the British Empire, amassing artefacts from around the world.

Today, the museum hosts a range of temporary exhibitions in addition to its permanent collection and its online archive is one of the most detailed in the world.

Source: Victoria & Albert Museum, Credit: Alan Williams Photography

The Victoria & Albert Museum, or the V&A, is the largest museum of decorative arts and design in the world. Founded in the Victorian era and named after Queen Victoria and her husband, the museum has grown to house over 4.5 million objects, encompassing architecture, ceramics, metalwork and furniture, as well as world art, including Islamic Middle Eastern, Japanese, Chinese and South Asian pieces.

A truly international museum, the V&A hosts various workshops, performances and theatre works from around the world.

7. Roman Museum - Canterbury

Source: Visit Canterbury

One of the most exciting periods of British history is the Roman era. Romans first landed on British shores under Julius Caesar in 54 BC, but the land wasn't officially annexed until 43 AD, starting almost half a century of Roman life in Britain.

Canterbury, known as Durovernum Cantiacorum, was a key settlement in Roman times. During bombing in World War II, the remains of a large Roman courtyard house were uncovered, which now forms the basis of the town's Roman Museum. Today, visitors can see the excavated ruins, as well as explore reconstructions - and even test their skills using Roman technology.

8. Titanic Belfast - Belfast

Credit: Titanic Belfast

Opened in 2012 in Belfast's redeveloped Titanic Quarter, Titanic Belfast tells the story of the ill-fated RMS Titanic, which famously sank on its maiden voyage, as well as documenting the history of sister ships Olympic and Britannic.

In addition, the museum charts the rise and fall of the greater shipbuilding industry in the United Kingdom, as well as the boom Belfast experienced at the turn of the 20th century. The museum has become a popular attraction for visitors in the city, with its iconic façade serving as a symbol of Belfast's urban regeneration.

Source: International Slavery Museum

Covering one of the darkest aspects of British history, Liverpool's international slavery museum offers visitors an unflinching insight in the slave trade - the effects of which are still felt today. The museum covers West African culture before the arrival of Europeans and the British role in the global slave trade, as well as exhibits on contemporary human trafficking and human rights issues in the 21st century.

Opened in 2007, the museum has gained acclaim for its portrayal of personal experiences of slavery. There are plans to expand the museum significantly in the near future.

Want to experience British history first hand? Head to to plan your stay.