It has been an incredibly busy month since our last post and an incredible amount of work has been done.
As well as continuing with focus groups and education sessions, the main work has centered around the relocation of the collection to our new site in Lyneham.
The biggest items in our collection are our vehicles, and these have started the transfer up the M4 and into Lyneham. To be able to move them, Museum staff had to dismantle all the dioramas which involved shoveling a lot of sand, rocks and rubble into wheelbarrows (the glamorous side of working in a Museum!).
The vehicles from Arborfield will be relocated by the end of this week, and next week all vehicles from Bordon will begin to be relocated. The last to go will be those vehicles which are going to be on display in the new Museum. Because they are so big, we need to move them in to the new Museum before we can move in the cases, panels and other display items. This is going to mean a lot of help from the Recovery Mechanics and an external company Metcalf Farms, to help get the vehicles in the right position. After all, we don’t just want to move our Churchill ARV in to the hall, we then want to rotate it 90 degrees without damaging the floor at all. Simple!
As well as the vehicles, some of our other larger items, such as our bell tower, have had to be relocated.
Despite it being an incredibly foggy day which brought London airports to a standstill, the work took place to lift up the tower from its base. What originally seemed like a straight forward task quickly presented its own problems. We had originally thought that the tower was in a temporary base from which it could be lifted out. However, two hours later it became obvious that the tower was firmly in place. Alistair, of Creative Timberwork, happened to be passing by. Alistair had lived in the married quarters on the Garrison and learnt to ride at the Arborfield Stables. He was keen to lend a hand and came back with a car-load of tools. Unfortunately, the bell tower still wouldn’t move.
Now getting dark, the decision was made to cut the tower at the base allowing it to finally be freed. It has already been relocated to Lyneham and we will be looking for help in the local area to recreate the central section which had to be cut so that it can be restored to its full height when it is back on display.
In Lyneham, we have now started moving everything in. This includes the hundreds of boxes which we have been packing since we closed in April 2015. And space is filling up quickly!
As well as the boxes, we have had our Scout helicopter delivered to the site as well. This took place earlier this week in the rain and the dark, but with the perseverance of REME Recovery Mechanics, the Scout was brought into its new home.
The Museum has had to dispose of a number of things which it won’t be taking to the new location. This has included cupboards, shelving and even display cases which have been transferred to various military museums including the Royal Signals Museum and internally to the REME School of Army Aeronautical Engineering.
We still have a few random limbs which are looking for a new home!
The Museum is now operating from two sites and we are hoping to be fully relocated by the end of November.
Jennifer Allison – Curator
Juliet Turk – Assistant Curator