By Steve Barker
Did you spend hours of your childhood building a small town complete with vehicles, buildings, trees and small people out of Lego?
Or perhaps you had some of the space kit, with spacecraft and astronauts, or Technic Lego complete with cogs and motors.
Whichever it was, there can’t be many of us under 50 that haven’t enjoyed playing with the brightly coloured plastic bricks. So when I heard that the Bricks Britannia Lego exhibition was coming to the Beaney, I admit I was more than a little excited.
Billed as the History of Britain in Lego, visitors are presented with a number of dioramas depicting significant historical events.
You begin your journey in the Iron Age, with a round hut and small enclosure, complete with convincing smoke emanating from the fires but actually made out of small Lego pieces.
Move on to 1066 and the Battle of Hastings (look out for King Harold struck down with the arrow in his eye), and finish up with a bustling Victorian high street scene.
The display of famous people from the Twentieth century perhaps needs the greatest use of the viewers’ imagination. The Beatles, Winston Churchill, and Charles & Diana are represented in rather square brick form in the style of Minecraft. Croissant for a moustache anyone?
Undoubtedly though, the main attraction is the 8 metre-long brick model of the Flying Scotsman, and for my godson (it can be useful, although not essential, to have a small person with you as a cover to revisit your own youth) the combination of both bricks and trains is definitely a winner.
The level of detail is quite astounding, both on the locomotive itself, and in the scenes played out in the carriages behind – Lego travellers drinking in the buffet car, fine dining in the restaurant coach, and relaxing in the sleeper; everything is here that you’d find on the full-size prototype.
If seeing all of these detailed models has ignited your creative side, don’t leave without visiting the Brick Pit in the Explorers and Collectors room.
Try your hand creating something from the thousands of large red bricks available, or just admire the skills of others. We watch some real block-building talent being exercised, and if you follow the Beaney’s Facebook page you’ll see some of the best.
Yes I do have a go – and I’m secretly rather proud my train made it onto their Facebook page too!
Tickets are limited and you are asked to book in advance to guarantee entry, but it doesn’t feel overly busy; there’s a steady flow of people through, but plenty of time and space to get close to the models.
This was the first time that I’d been to a ticketed exhibition at The Beaney and it was working well. If you haven’t already got your tickets for Brick Britannia, get them soon – it’s only here until 24th February and many days have already sold out.
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