We finished off the Christmas holidays with a trip into Wales to visit The Royal Mint Experience just outside of Cardiff. Last year was the first time The Royal Mint had opened it’s doors to the public and so we were excited to go and see how all of our sterling coins are made.
The experience is easy to find and well signposted. There’s plenty of parking and there’s just a short walk from the car park to the entrance and everything is well accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs. The experience is free for the under fives and comprises a guided tour and an interactive exhibition.
When we arrived we were signed in and then shown through security – much like being at the airport – where we were scanned and bags searched. After that we were shown a film to start our guided tour. Unfortunately but understandably, for security, photography isn’t allowed during the guided part of the tour.
During the guided tour we learnt about the process of making coins – from the raw materials through to striking the coin. We found out about the history of the UK’s currency and learnt that The Royal Mint not only produces the UK’s coins and medals but also coins and medals for many countries overseas too. They even supply some countries with coin blanks to strike their own coins.
As well as learning about how coins are made we also got to watch the process from a glass walled room attached to the factory. We could see coins being made and the sheer volume of coins that were produced – as well as learning the vast value in coins that The Royal Mint holds at any one time. The quantities that are produced are hard to imagine!
At the moment The Royal Mint are preparing for the launch of the new 12 sided £1 coins in March and so we learnt all about the new coins, about the security features on them and the fact they are being introduced as 3% of the current £1 coins in circulation are counterfeit! From someone who has spent her whole adult life working in banking, and knowing how many coins are actually out there, this is such a huge amount – the new coins are such an improvement.
At the end of the guided tour the children were able to strike their very own new £1 coins and LP loved that she now has a coin that she can’t actually spend yet. It costs £5.00 to strike your own coin and is a great souvenir of the experience.
After the guided tour we went into the interactive exhibition and learnt about the history of The Royal Mint – from it’s original home at The Tower of London, to Tower Hill and finally to where we visited, having been there since decimalisation in 1971.
The exhibition had so many coins from the oldest of gold coins through to the currency of today – and so many in between. There were also coins from the other countries that we have produced coins for, olympic medals and lots of the things used through the ages to make coins too. It was a really informative exhibition that we all enjoyed and learnt from.
The children loved the amount of interactive aspects to the exhibition – there were places to sit, things to touch, places to draw and colour and even coin related games to play. As the children are so young – 3 and 5 – they enjoyed the exhibition more than the guided tour – purely because they understood a lot more but as an adult both aspects were enjoyable and rewarding and worked well together.
After the exhibition we wandered around the gift shop – and bought our obligatory fridge magnet. There was a really big cafe that would be great for lunch, a hot drink or snacks too. The whole Royal Mint Experience was a really great way to spend a couple of hours and learn something new. We love learning about history and knowing where our currency has come from is definitely something we’re glad that we now know more about.
The Royal Mint Experience probably isn’t something you would travel hours to go to – the whole experience lasts about two hours – but it would be great to visit if you’re ever in the area or if you need somewhere to stop to break up a long journey. I can also see it as being a great place for a school trip.
Disclosure: We were invited to the above experience for the purpose of this review however all opinions are my own.