If you are a Dr Who fan*, then it may prove worthwhile to pay a visit to West Ham, for inside their former supporters club store can be found an entire museum devoted to the science fiction show.
In fact, the museum sits at the back of a shop in what was the football club’s trophy room. Gaudy cups celebrating sporting prowess have been replaced by Daleks and Cybermen.
A cheery hullo as I wandered in, and looking around by the door I didn’t see anything obviously museum like, but the cash desk confirmed that yes, there is a museum, and for £3 a person can use the Tardis in the corner to go have a look.
Yes, you enter the museum via a Tardis – corny or brilliant – take your pick.
So, running the width of the back of the store is the dark room filled with Dr Who memorabilia – most of it original from the TV series, and a smaller quantity being props made for promotional events.
Dominating the room are costumes – lots of costumes, mainly of villains, but sitting significantly in a protective glass box is one of Tom Baker’s famous outfits – and yes, it has a scarf.
The Tardis console is from the 1989 stage play
For me personally, what I liked about the museum is that it focused mainly on the older stuff rather than being dominated by anything post-2005, as some of the travelling shows have done. Obviously that is in part due to newer items not being sold off to collectors yet, so I am sure the collection will slowly catch up with the newer episodes and offer that experience to the newer Dr Who fans.
They have a gas mask, obviously, and the shop has plenty of weeping angels. A chap wandered in while I was browsing and asked for weeping angels. He didn’t care what sort of things he could buy, he was just after a weeping angel, any weeping angel of any sort.
Maybe he should have visited a memorial stonemason.
Back in the museum, I was particularly pleased to see a 1980s style Cyberman. I really don’t like the new versions. For me, they lack humanity – which may seem an odd thing to complain about, but part of the fear of the Cybermen was that they were humans who blended with machines, and in physicality at least – retained some human aesthetics. For me, the current Cybermen are too mechanical and the notion that they are actually living people is buried literally, and figuratively under grey makeup.
A few glass cases contain smaller objects from face masks to weapons and general costumes from the TV series.
As usual with museums, not everything is on display and they rotate the objects on occasion. An ice-man is currently awaiting restoration before going on display. A Yeti is in the corner, sitting in front of a London Underground sign.
Feel free to take photos or pose with your favourite villain, and the owner or staff will be in there to very happily chat away for ages about anything Dr Who you care to talk about.
The main store is packed mainly with collectables from the current crop of TV series, although if you look around, there are older objects for sale. I spotted a couple of VHS boxed sets that I once collected myself, and then sold on eBay a few years ago.
There are in fact two Tardis in the shop – one the entrance to the museum, and the other is an actual prop from the film – Dalek Invasion of Earth.
However, whoever thought up the idea of a cuddly toy Dalek needs to be exterminated.
The museum/store has been around since 1984, although they only moved to the current location a few years ago.
For me, the TV show is just a bit of light entertainment, but the museum is nostalgic and run by evident fans which then makes the shop a more enjoyable place to visit – and it feels better to be buying goods from somewhere that isn’t just piling up shelves because a head-office merchandising department brought some stock.
Address: The Who Shop, 39-41 Barking Road, London E6 1PY
* Yes, I know it is Doctor Who, but I am lazy and Dr is faster to type – and, more importantly, it really annoys the pedants.
Update: 24th March 2019 – Entry is still £3, and they take a photo of you outside the Tardis, but no longer allow photos inside the museum itself.