New Opportunities at the REME Museum

New Logo

It’s a New Year and we’ve hit the ground running. The final display installation will be taking place over the next couple of weeks, followed by the graphics and images, objects and object labels and the hundreds of other little things which we will be doing to get everything ready for our visitors.

Work on our café has also started and once open, visitors will be able to sit down and enjoy a meal and hot drink in what was the former Officers’ Mess bar.

In preparation for opening, we are recruiting new staff for the Museum. This includes a Front of House Supervisor and Assistant positions, a Museum Assistant position and an Archives Assistant position.

This is an exciting time to join the team and to be involved in how we will develop over the coming months once we are able to welcome visitors in again.

All information can be found on the Museum website: http://www.rememuseum.org.uk/about-us/

We now have a target date set, and the staff are working hard to meet it. For the moment we are still keeping it under wraps but hope to be able to announce it soon via our website, blog and social media.

Over the next few weeks we will keep you up to date in how the Museum is coming along, including the Archives, Education and the Café.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

 

End of 2016

The first full year in our new home is coming to an end, and what a year it’s been. Although things haven’t gone quite to plan, the work and effort put in by the Museum team, Design team and all the contractors has been phenomenal.

The majority of the physical displays and cases are now in place, and we can’t wait to start doing the final touches.

The New Year will see Collections staff doing a through dusting of everything before we then start installing all of the objects.

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A big thank you to all the REME Officers and Soldiers, current and former, who have given up their time to give input and feedback for the displays. A big thank you to the public who continue to offer their support and have made us feel so welcome in our new home.

Current plans are that we will be open to the public in Spring 2017. An exact date will be announced closer to the time.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

Installation has started…

After a very intense work period during which various building issues were addressed, work has now started on implementing the new Museum design. This includes new cases, display structures, false walls, painting, plastering, lighting, sound… It can only be described as a building site at the moment, but it is looking very impressive.

The work is being carried out by a team from The Workhaus and Glasshaus who are working all hours of the day to get everything in place on time.

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The Museum will be divided into 7 galleries, each of which will have a theme. They include a gallery dedicated to World War II and the creation of the Corps, a gallery which looks at the modern and predecessor trades of the Corps, a gallery showcasing a selection of the Museums weapon collection and a gallery looking at the subject of remembrance and memorials.

The last of our vehicles have also been moved into place, and will provide an overview to visitors about the range of environments, campaigns and operations which REME have been involved in.

Staff are now finalising the graphics and text which will provide the visitor with the extra information to compliment the displays. For this we are drawing on our extensive pictorial archives which numbers over 60,000 images dating from when the Corps was formed in 1942.

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The building side of the installation is due to be completed by the beginning of December, after which the Collections team will begin bringing out all the objects which have been selected for display and putting them into the relevant cases.

There is still a lot of work to be done, but it is safe to say that we can definitely see a Museum taking shape.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

Tanks, VE Day Ball and Museum Designs

For those of you who have read our earlier posts, you will know that Museum staff had a visit to the Tank Museum in Bovington at the end of April.

It was at this time that several members of staff managed to get a hold of tickets for the annual Tank Fest which took place on the 27th and 28th June.

We had a fantastic time watching tanks doing tours around the arena to a huge crowd and we even got a chance to see the tank tug of war!

Tank

Marines

Staff couldn’t help but think about how we could offer members of the public a similar experience – maybe a ride on our Scammell ‘Swampy’? Or maybe even our Western Star?

25 Pounder tooIn other news, our World War Two 25 Pounder Field Guns were loaned out to 7 Air Assault Battalion, REME, who are based in Ipswich. Staff watched on as soldiers from REME and the RLC collected the Field Guns with a Man SVR vehicle – who needs Tank Fest!

The items were loaned out for use at the Summer Ball which had a VE day and 1940s theme. They fit in perfectly with other items of the era which we had loaned out.

All have now been returned to the Museum, and the next time they leave will be for their permanent home in Lyneham.

Another event which took place on the 1st July was the Arborfield Garrison Staff Garden Party. The event was held as a final thank you to all staff who have worked at Arborfield over the years. It was a great afternoon, helped by being one of the warmest days of the year. Though those who were playing cricket might not agree with that!

There was also a great display by the REME Parachute Team.

The designs for the Museum are progressing with rooms now having definite themes to them. As well as a World War Two gallery, we have rooms dedicated to the trades of the Corps (past and present), the lives of REME men and women when off duty, a room to celebrate the achievements of the Corps and a dedicated armoury to display the hundreds of weapons held in the collection.

Staff are currently busy doing Focus Groups with each of the trades to make sure that the information provided is accurate and comes direct from the men and women doing that job.

With only 3 months to go, the packing pace is picking up and we are starting to dismantle the displays around the vehicles in the Prince Philip Vehicle Hall. Now, how did they get that Scout up there?!

Scout

Jennifer Allison – Curator

VW’s, Vehicles and Packing

VW signThe last weekend of May saw Museum staff at the VW Expo at Stonor Park. Despite all the rain it was a great day with lots of visitors enjoying themselves. Organised by the Association of British VW Clubs, there was a variety of stalls and displays, as well as competitions.

The Museum became involved with the event due to our historic link with VW. REME Officers, Major Ivan Hirst and Colonel Michael McEvoy, played a key role in rebuilding the VW factory in Germany after the Second World War.

The Corps are very proud of this link, and the Museum enjoys supporting events whenever we can.

Beetles NightmareUnfortunately the weather on Sunday meant that we couldn’t put our banners out as they might have ended up being blown into Henley town centre. We were able to display a variety of VW models created by our Technical Historian Brian Baxter. These were a big hit with visitors of all ages, especially ‘A Beetle’s Nightmare’.

Packing is still one of the major tasks underway in the Museum. As well as packing up the collection in Arborfield, we also have a large collection in Bordon, Hampshire which we have started preparing for the move. This is where most of our historic vehicle collection is kept and for the new Museum we are hoping to bring out and display some of the vehicles which have been stored here.

Our small army of volunteers are very busy in Arborfield, packing plaques, name boards, models and a variety of other items. We are surrounded by boxes, bubble wrap, archival tissue paper and lots of tags. Our stores are almost completely boxed up now, and the main displays have begun to be dismantled.

More meetings with the designers are coming up in the next week so more specifics about the main display will be available soon.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

Corridor 2 after
Corridor 2 ‘before’ photo
Corridor 2 before
Corridor 2 ‘after’ photo

Out and About

The Museum has now been closed for over a week. Although quiet from the outside we are keeping very busy behind the scenes.

In January 2014, PLB were selected to be the Museum Designers to help create the new Museum in Lyneham. PLB were also responsible for displays at the Tank Museum, and so we organised a trip down to Bovington to have a look at what had been done.

P1020512Staff had a great day. We were very warmly welcomed by staff of the Tank Museum, and as well as a tour of the galleries we were also able to see the stores and archives and find out more about the design and installation process. We left feeling inspired!

Last week also saw us saying goodbye to the shop and café staff, Ken Wilmott, Emma Bacon, Shirley Tizard and Sandra Gilbert. All will be missed, and we wish them all the best in the future.

The latest update in regard to building works sees the Museum still being in its new home in October 2015. And as a sign that things are picking up pace and moving forward, other sections of the Corps will start moving in within the next few weeks.

The first of many training sessions also took place as the Museum needs as many volunteers as possible to help with packing up all the items.

The training looks at how to handle objects safely, especially needed with our collection so that no handles fall off our items from the 1940s, and what material to use to pack items. The Museum uses archive quality material which means that items will stay safe and be preserved for much longer. No sellotape or blue tack to be seen anywhere, and we also provide everyone with gloves – it’s for your own protection as much as the objects.

Volunteers have the chance to find out about damage which can be done by various bugs and pests and how to identify them, and of course the chance to handle, research and pack historic items of importance to the REME Corps.

If you are interested in volunteering then please get in touch to find out more.

Next week will see the contracted movers coming in to do a final assessment, after which we will start taking the displays apart. There will also be a meeting with the Museum Designers to discuss the selection and location of the vehicles in the new Museum.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

        Vol Recruit Poster May 2015

Finishing with a Bang!

Historic Vehicles  Soldier face painting

The Museum had its last open day on Saturday – ‘The Last Big Bash’.

There was something for everyone. From a hog roast and the delicious cakes of the Arborfield and Newlands Women’s Institute, to a variety of activities including face painting, challenge the goalie, minefield challenge and the ever popular assault course. On display were historic and modern vehicles, as well as information on the upcoming move and the designs so far for the new Museum.

Performances by the Military Army Wives group and displays by the Royal British Legion, including the Royal British Legion Bikers, helped to make the day extra special.

A big thank you goes to all those from 11 Training Battalion and the REME Recruitment team who helped run the stalls and activities, even helping with face painting and transforming children into cats, dogs and  various superheroes.

Thank you to all of those who helped make the day such a success and thank you to all those who visited – over 2000 of you!

The Museum is now closed to the public and we are on to the next stage of the project which will see the Museum in Arborfield move with the Garrison to Lyneham, Wiltshire.

Staff and volunteers will now begin packing the collections in preparation for relocation. This isn’t your average house move though. The Museum has to use archival quality packing material to make sure that it is safe for items to be in contact with (no bubble wrap stuck to surfaces for us!). We also have to make a list of all the items which are being moved so that we can track them and make sure we don’t leave anything behind.

This is a very large project and it wouldn’t be possible without the help of our volunteers.

We have also begun designing the new Museum and selecting items to be on display. Regular visitors will be happy to know that both our Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle and our Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle will be on display, along with other vehicles which have been in storage.

Although we are closed to the public, we are still very busy working behind the scenes. If you would like the chance to get hands on with the collection and help with the packing then please get in contact with us and we will be happy to give you more information.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

Email us on enquiries@rememuseum.org.uk

All images courtesy of Ted Burnham LBIPP, LRPS

Lowering the flag