Somme Heritage Centre

Somme Heritage Centre, Newtownards: Hours, Address, Somme Heritage Centre Reviews: 4.5/5

Somme Heritage Centre
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Somme Museum The Somme Museum opened in 1994, it examines Ireland's role in the First World War, with special reference to local cross-community involvement in the three volunteer Divisions raised in Ireland: the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions, and the 36th (Ulster) Division. The Museum is fully registered and accredited and houses an extensive collection of material from the Great War period which is displayed on a rotational basis. The collection includes uniforms, medals, weapons and personal items which tell the stories of those who served, fought and experienced the First World War. Visitors to the Museum have an opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of the First World War as they make their way from the Home Rule Crisis to the Recruiting Office and on to the trenches of the Western Front. Audio visual displays and experienced and knowledgeable guides bring the experience to life.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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171 reviews
Very good

Lisburn10 contributions
Jul 2014 • Couples
This being the centenary year we decided yesterday to fulfil a longstanding intention to visit the Somme Heritage Centre.

Do go along and see what is on offer, we were not disappointed. The place was not busy and we were the only two people on the 11am tour. The hour spent with our guide flew past. Following a short introduction to the three Irish Regiments (1 Unionist, 1 Nationalist who both fought on the Somme and 1 who fought in the Dardanelles!) the tour began. Plenty of audio visuals and mock ups complete with genuine artefacts. If anything I would have liked more time to read the commentaries on display as we were shown around but would be happy to go again. To be fair sometimes the guides on this kind of military museum/memorial can be over enthusiastic and provide too much specialist detail, however, our guide got it just right and I liked the personal anecdotes. The whole exhibition is well presented and informative and we were moved almost to tears at some points. We came out feeling how lucky our generation is that we have never had to face the horrors that our parents and grandparents endured.

The concessionary cost of admittance was £4.50 each. Afterwards we had lunch at the delightful little cafe. Beautifully clean and bright with lovely home cooked food. Again inexpensive and very good value. We will certainly go back and would not hesitate to recommend it to visitors to the centre and also walkers using the Ulster Way path which is close by.

I understand that the Somme Centre is run as a charity but the directors do themselves little favour by the lack of a proper web presence or prominent banners on the main road. I think they are missing a huge opportunity to promote their good work and could have made more of the hundred year anniversary. The Somme Centre deserves to attract much more attention than it does at present so please do go along.
Written July 31, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bangor, UK8 contributions
Aug 2015 • Friends
Nine service users from the "HISTORY GROUP" VISITED the centre on Monday 10th.August 2015. The group , all agree to quote ONE.OF THE BEST MUSEUM VISITS WE HAVE EXPERIENCED. OUR GUIDE TOM WAS SUPER ....INFORMATIVE AND PLEASANT HE WAS A GREAT TOUR GUIDE .....HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TOM. We were taken through this horrific battle from recruitment.,the weapons,the young men who fought gallantry despite losing some of their comrades. Tom also took us through the hazards of trench foot to rat INFESTATION.My favourite was the "TRENCH" ....very realistic. It even had a wounded soldier with the inevitable rat attacking his wounds ...
Those Poor Men....they endured so much. Finally we wish to thank the excellent staff .....Heather who helped me arrange the visit....Andrew our Chef ...We all enjoyed our meal and of course Tom ...Well Done .The group say a Big Thank You it was an excellent day. We wish you all well for the future and hope you can continue this .great facility. Margaret(on behalf of the Group.r
Written August 11, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Eleanor B
Belfast, UK1 contribution
Feb 2014 • Friends
Definitely was affected by the content here. Our guide, Matthew, seems to be very popular as his name keeps coming up in lots of reviews. He is very well informed for a young person.
The visit to the trenches is effective; this is really great museum work, it gives you a taste of just what life must have been like down there. No wonder soldiers went mad/got "shell shock" (now PTSD)
This centre really does affect you, maybe because its the centenary year; but it is really tragic, the massive loss of life.
Written February 21, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Saint Julian's, Malta8 contributions
Jan 2020 • Couples
First of all would like to say I’m reviewing
Management and staff not the museum !
We drove from Belfast to be told at the door by a very disinterested lady that the place was closed and preceded to close the door .
We said we phoned and kept getting the answer machine to ask us to leave a message . No details of the closure on the machine message .how this simply could be checked every morning if staff took the time .

When I emailed the museum to complain
They simply said there must have been an electric short and the message was wiped . And the closure is stated on the website .my I add a lot of people especially of a age don’t do web sites .
So the management need to address staffing issues . And public relations.
Written February 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Belfast12 contributions
Mar 2016 • Family
I recently attended a tour in the centre, this was my first visit to the museum. Receptionist was pleasant. I was a bit surprised when I came through the door and the tour started, the guide was very pleasant but he talked at length about the Vickers machine gun, pride of place in the very large empty hall, I am surprised why the Somme Heritage Centre a WW1 museum would have a WW2 gun on show. Do the guides know this? We were told that they used them in the trenches but they did not advise us they were 20yrs out!!! If you are going to have a Somme museum and get funding for it then maybe you should not trick visitors into a different eras gun.
As I passed through the centre I was surprised at the number of reproduction items in the display, I dont come to a museum to see reproductions, I want to see the real thing. Again I noticed WW2 items in the bunker which I found strange and misrepresented the Battle.
Written April 23, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for your recent review of the Somme Heritage Centre. I would firstly like to make it clear that we do not try to trick our visitors. You are quite right to state that the Vickers Machine Gun was used in World War Two, however it was first issued to the British army in 1912 and was used extensively during the First World War. The Museum currently holds two Vickers Machine Guns in the collection and the one on display in the memorial hall is a 'drill purpose' version which was used in training exercises. This, for us, is a satisfactory depiction of the weapon. The Museum has a very specific story to tell and due to almost 50% of our visitors being school children we often use replica props to allow a hands on experience. It would be unethical of us as a fully accredited Museum to allow the handling and trying on of original 100 year old items and uniforms, as such we endeavour to strike a balance between unique original artefacts protected by display cases and other touchable items which help to tell the story. I am glad that you found the Museum's staff pleasant, they take great pride in their work and a heartfelt interest in the people who's stories they tell.
Written April 25, 2016
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Dd U
Ardsley on Hudson, NY3 contributions
Jul 2015
Needs updating, no enthusiasm, drab interior, no welcome, sad cafe, long waits for tours, if there are school trips the public get side lined
Written November 16, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Belfast157 contributions
Mar 2016 • Solo
This Easter I took the time to visit the Somme Heritage centre in Newtownards (close to Conlig) and I wasn’t to be disappointed – just regretted not doing it sooner!

I can heartedly recommend that you visit, with family, or friends or on your own. No matter what the weather. Actually when the weather isn’t what you hoped for this is the ideal way to spend the day.

From the warm welcome at the door right through the tour and the relaxing cup of tea (and a little bit more) in the restaurant it makes for the perfect day out.

You will be surprised at the excellent displays and the knowledge of the tour guides that all go to express the sacrifice so many made yester year so we could enjoy tomorrow.

I left educated and grateful such an exhibition was on my doorstep – proud too!
Written March 29, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ian M
Glasgow, UK118 contributions
Apr 2014 • Couples
The attraction is an exhibition of WW1 from a Northern Irish (mostly) perspective. A look at how soldiers of the Great War had to overcome the various pitfalls which the had to overcome, the weapons used and at mock up of how the typical trench might have looked. A great experience which I am looking forward to returning to . Allow a good few hours to take in all that is on offer
Written July 22, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Doug M
Belfast, UK40 contributions
Feb 2014 • Family
The Somme Heritage Centre is situated midway between the homes of 2 of my married daughters so I have passed it many many times and never thought of visiting it--partly I must say because it is not visible from the road and other than a 'brown sign' is not well advertised.----However my young grandson 9 years of age is hearing all about the great war in school and was quizzing me about it---his mum wondered if it would be worth a trip to the museum in Belfast and I said there is one just 5 mins drive away--the Somme Heritage Centre--she hadn't even heard of it !!!---I agreed to take young Charlie--didn't know what to expect---but what a super experience it turned out to be for both of us. I learnt a lot of new things about WW1 and Charlie got up close and personal with a machine gun and tried on army uniform and toted a Lee Enfield 303

The centre is superbly laid out extremely informative / interesting and is innovative in the ways it communicates--it is a very fitting memorial the the brave men of the Somme.

There is a guided tour every hour on the hour. The guide we had --Matthew was great--full of enthusiasm and able to entertain all ages in the group. He led us thro. the streets of Belfast just prior to the war then to a recruiting office--through the trenches past a field hospital and finally to no man's land all very realistic reconstructions with well thought out audio visual presentations.

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience--it was reasonably priced and an added bonus is the restaurant --very clean,light and airy--quite an extensive menu and tasty

This place is well worth a visit. Given our past troubles it shows how men from the North and South of Ireland from Orange and Green fought and died together in terrible conditions.

I think more needs to be done to market the centre. Regardless of age or background, local or tourist there is much of interest for everyone. Even to take a leaf out of the Ulster Folk Museum book--large advertising banners at the roadside would remind/inform the passing public of it's existance
Written February 20, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

52 contributions
Aug 2013
The layout fantastic. Guys came off shop floor. Signed up. Said goodbye. Then trained.then front line. Injuries horific.conditions terrible. Display brought war so many lost. Then korean war. Again fighting a brutal enemy. Heroes doesnt describe the men adequitely
Written November 29, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Somme Heritage Centre is open:
  • Mon - Thu 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Sat - Sat 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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