Is The Crime Through Time Museum worth the £9 entry fee?
The news of Dave Courtney's passing earlier this week made me very sad. Why? Well, as far as I am concerned, his autobiographical trilogy, The Ride, Stop The Ride, and grand finale, Fuck The Ride, will one day will be regarded as historically important texts. They're basically the Magna Carta, but about 'roid raging bouncers duffing each other up, drug deals 'on the continent' gone awry, villains and their stashes of shooters and knuckledusters, and a glossary of the code of honour used by criminals both petty and professional. And, some naysayers might add, loads of made up stories and lies.
His death also took me back to a day trip we made during the summer to the Crime Through Time Museum. Situated in Littledean Jail in Cinderford, the Forest of Dean, it's widely regarded as the 'sickest museum in Britain', and I can 100% tell you it deserves this accolade.
At the start of 2023, I did a 'goal planning' session and one of my aims for this year was to visit this place, so making the trek from London to Gloucestershire was a massive win for me (shamefully, most of my other goals remain unfulfilled, with just weeks left of the year. One of them was 'watch every film Stone Cold Steve Austin ever made', so you can see I had very big ambitions for 2023).
What's in the Crime Through Time Museum?
I arrived at Crime Through Time Museum buzzing and chomping at the bit for all the gore and grossness, but not all of it sat right with me. Months later, I am still trying to get my head around everything me and my boyfriend saw there. A lot of it, in our opinion, was unnecessary - racist KKK exhibits, loads of Nazi gear and action men acting out concentration camp scenes, a corner dedicated to terrorist beheading videos, dog fighting, deformed animals... stuff which I wasn't expecting to see and really felt uncomfortable around.
The owner, Andy Jones, has said: "Crime in itself is not a pleasant subject matter and hence should not be presented or portrayed in a pleasant manner either", but I do think that a lot of the more violent pieces were excessively gratuitous. He hasn't explained why the museum also has a Peaky Blinders exhibition, and the largest collection of Quadrophenia memorabilia and props in the world.
Slide through the some pics we took at Crime Through Time Museum below
Huge swathes of the museum are covered in collages of UK and international celebrities' worst moments - think relationship and mental breakdowns, drug busts, losing their jobs, grisly deaths - with many framed alongside a smiling signed photograph. I didn't notice this until I went to the loo and saw Vanessa Feltz grinning next to a headline which read 'I'll cut your head off Vanessa'. In fact, there are so many cuttings to read, plus engraved black didactics over the walls and hanging from the ceiling, that I quickly felt that my brain couldn't take anymore.
Upstairs at the museum are the jail's original cells and it's here, aptly, that most of the true crime exhibits can be found, including one of Fred West's ties. The entire corridor is adorned with (quite good!) fan art of different serial killers, from Dennis Nilsen (some of his personal belongings were also on display) to Richard Ramirez, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. There are also small etched glass plaques of famous Satanists dotted around in the display cases, plus a lot of art, letters and cluppings prison legend Charles Bronson.
But what has all this got to do with Dave Courtney? Well, there was a whole section of the museum dedicated to him! And even one of his famed cream suits he wore when he got acquitted. I can't help but think that this suit - which could have been made from a pair of curtains - is now truly worthy of its place in the museum.
Thinking of visiting the Crime Through Time Museum? Make sure you check their opening times on Facebook before making the trek. And be prepared to feel sick!