The Guernsey Tomato Museum


Suggestions for a fun family day out this summer…

By some distance the least impressive museum I have ever visited is the Tomato Museum on the island of Guernsey. I think I was about fourteen when we went, so you can imagine the impression a tomato-based attraction would have made on my adolescent mind. That’s right, none whatsoever. I don’t even like tomatoes.

How to describe? I could mention the feebleness of the displays, the battered, uninformative signs purporting to enlighten the public on the practicalities of tomato-growing, the general dirt, the ill-kept greenhouses. The inadequate refreshment area. The toilets. The random additional attractions, including a plastic Wendy House shaped like a big shoe and a ragged huddle of obsolete arcade machines.

But merely listing these things cannot capture the feel of the place. So try to imagine, if you will, that you are a bright tomato-red balloon blown up for a jolly party, but the party is over, the marquee is packed away, the empty bottles are stacked and reeking, and you have been left to wrinkle and deflate in the rubble-strewn car park. And it’s raining, and there will be no more parties ever again. That is the Guernsey Tomato Museum.

When my daughters are a bit older I will of course take them to fun places such as Alton Towers and Disneyland and whatnot, but it’s a shame the Guernsey Tomato Museum no longer exists, since I would have insisted on a visit.

“Life isn’t just Disneyland and Alton Towers”, I would tell them. “Look around you, girls. Look around you and absorb this and think on it. This too is real. This too is life.”

Perhaps there are suitable alternatives still going strong? Places that could only be enjoyed by the terminally ironic, eccentric or Jonathan Meades? I like the look of Barometer World in Okehampton. Then there’s the Pencil Museum in Keswick of course, and the Unique Dog Collar Museum at Leeds Castle. Any other suggestions?

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11 thoughts on “The Guernsey Tomato Museum

    July 17, 2013 at 08:30

    Today they are probably constructed in a Shanghai shed but in the nineteen fifties Keswick was bathed in that pencil pong so redolent of the classroom. Visitors, in them thar days either Mankie or Geordie climbers, bikers or motorcyclists would hang out of the pub windows and sniff the Lake District breeze, and pine for the lower fourth.

    Hanging one’s head out of any Lake District window of course guarantees an immediate soaking.

    Not an odd museum but an odd exhibition in a decent museum, the recently reopened Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh’s Queen St had an exhibition of portraits of Scottish comedians and comediennes. Oddly there was no portrait of Salmond.

      July 17, 2013 at 21:27

      Ah, the lower fourth…

  2. Worm
    July 17, 2013 at 10:42

    there’s a bakelite museum somewhere in darkest somerset that someone once told me about in hushed tones of awe

      jonathan law
      July 17, 2013 at 12:44

      That might have been me — I seem to have commented on it at Brit’s old blog:

      Could I perhaps recommend the Bakelite Museum at Williton, Somerset? This is not only “Britain’s foremost collection of vintage plastic”, but also “includes a colourful display of bowls and vases made from Bandalasta (also known as LingaLonga), a coloured, marbled variation of Bakelite which first saw light in 1925”. And if your appetite for old brown radios remains unslaked, don’t forget the nearby Wireless Museum in the old transmitting station – itself an Art Deco concrete horror – at Washford Cross.

      • Worm
        July 17, 2013 at 13:03

        must have been you then JL!

    July 17, 2013 at 13:09

    I spotted a lift museum in Brussels, but alas we were in a hurry and had to pass it by. Belgium, I believe, has a museum for everything…

    July 18, 2013 at 02:18

    There’s a toilet seat museum in Texas.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:39

    Here are several more. I expect you English Dabblers will be booking your flights to Minnesota today to visit the Spam Museum.

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