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

Latest news from the REME Museum

opening-2017-boxes

It’s been 10 months since the last update, and an incredibly busy 10 months it’s been.

The Museum was due to open on October 1st 2016. As most will notice we were unable to meet this deadline. It became evident that essential building works were needed in order to ensure that the building was fit for purpose as a Museum and that our visitors have the best experience possible.

Work is now well underway to address these issues and we are working towards a new opening time in Spring 2017, exact details to follow.

Throughout the year we have continued with the development of the gallery designs, sorting and selecting objects for displays, developing new education sessions, designing the new café and reorganising the extensive archive collection.

We have welcomed new staff and sadly said goodbye to some as well. We have enjoyed meeting our new neighbours, including schools, museums, heritage sites and local community groups.

We are now entering the final stages of the project. Once the building works are completed this month, we will begin the installation of displays and showcases. As well as the design project we are now looking ahead to our events programme for 2017. This includes a series of temporary exhibitions, an evening lecture series, family events and special public events.

The pace is definitely picking up as we near the end of 2016. Over the next few months we will keep you updated with news about the galleries and their development, as well as news from the Archives and Education Departments.

We hope you’ll enjoy reading.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

 

Last one out, turn off the lights

The REME Museum was established in 1958 on the ground floor of Moat House, Arborfield. In 1985 it moved across the road, and continued to expand and develop over the next 30 years.

In April 2015 the Museum hosted its final event before closing to the public. The next 6 months saw staff and volunteers packing over 100,000 items along with offices and furniture.

On the 27th November, the Museum building was officially handed over and the ‘REME Museum of Technology’ in Arborfield came to an end.

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Former Trades Display Gallery
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Former Prince Philip Vehicle Hall Display
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Former Rowcroft Display

We are now starting a new stage in our history as the ‘REME Museum’. Over the past year an incredible amount of work has gone into designing the displays for the new Museum, and with the help of REME Recovery Mechanics the majority of our vehicles have now been put into position in the main galleries.

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WW2 Gallery showing Morris Commercial, Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle and Churchill Armoured Recovery Vehicle.

The Museum is now closing until the 4th January so that staff can have a well earned rest and recharge themselves ready for 2016 which will see all of the displays and text created, installed and the Museum reopened to the public.

From all staff at the REME Museum, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See you in 2016!

Jennifer Allison – Curator

The move has started….

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!).

Vehicle hall getting empty

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!

Loaded Stalwart

 

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.

Bell tower at night out of the ground

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!

Collection in boxes

Uniform collection

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.

Scout coming off the low loaderScout being pushed into place

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.

Mannequins on the moveSome of the stranger things we have had to find a home for has been our large collection of mannequins. But here are some of them, dismantled for the journey and off to their new home in St Athens.

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

The last little bit

With only a couple of weeks until we are officially relocated, the staff are busy preparing for the transition to our new home. The store rooms and display areas are emptying fast with most boxes now stacked on pallets and ready toBoxes on pallets move. The most notable difference is seen in our archives with hundreds of boxes being stacked high, ready to be loaded onto trucks.
The dismantling and reassembling of shelves is also taking place to ensure that our objects and archives are stored suitably in the new Museum. A few of our cases will not be coming with us but they have found new homes with other museums such as the Household Cavalry Museum. We are sure they’ll get as much use out of them as we did!

Staff goodbye meal

In the hubbub of moving, we took some time out last Wednesday for our farewell meal. It was a momentous and sad occasion for the staff as we said goodbye to five of our members: Lt Col (Ret’d) John Edwards, Mr Brian Baxter, Mr Ian Fisher, Mr John Blaney and Mr Malcolm Heppolette. Many of them have served longstanding years with the Museum and have contributed in their own way to developing the Museum. Brian Baxter, the Technical Historian, had served 62 years with REME. 32 of these he spent in the Museum sharing his vast knowledge and expertise with staff and visitors. We look forward to seeing them again when the Museum reopens next year.Birthday cake

Last Thursday, 1st October, marked a significant moment for the Corps, as it was on the 1st October 1942 that the Corps was formed. Celebrating the Corps 73rd birthday in true style, we tucked into some chocolate cake while thinking about where we would be in the coming months. This time next year we hope to be welcoming visitors (if all goes to plan!).

Despite having to relinquish our computers and desks, the staff here are determined to work to the very last day. The Assistant Curator will be making a trip to London for an oral history interview before the move to ensure that this key story is captured and stored in the archives for future use. The Curator is organising various focus groups with REME trades. These discussions have proved incredibly useful and will influence a large part of the narrative for the new Museum. As well as this, the new website will be launched to coincide with the move so keep your eyes peeled for this new development!

It is an exciting time for the new Museum, a chance to reorganise our collection stores, redesign our displays and set new challenging targets for the year ahead. We are looking forward to stepping into our new home and charging forward in 2016.

Juliet Turk – Assistant Curator

Less than 3 weeks to go!

With only 20 days to go until we have access to our new home, our current location is looking more like a storage warehouse than a Museum. Almost all of the displays have now been taken down and packed and the large graphic structures which housed cases and gave information have also begun to be dismantled.

Some of the 1000 medals packed and ready to go
Some of the 1000 medals packed and ready to go
Boxes waiting to be transferred to Lyneham
Boxes waiting to be transferred to Lyneham

A lot of the packing has been done over the past few months by our dedicated team of volunteers. However, there are a lot of items which need a more specialised approach. Staff from Specialist Packers started working at the Museum two weeks ago and have been able to deal with some of our more awkward items, such as missiles and mannequins.

The former James Johnston Room
The former James Johnston Room
A Guardroom mannequin packed and ready to go
A Guardroom mannequin packed and ready to go

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are almost ready to start moving things to our new home. So far everything is on schedule and we will be picking up the keys on the 28th September. Not long to go!

Some of our items are already waiting in Lyneham. The biggest item to be moved over the last couple of weeks has been our Scout helicopter. This couldn’t have been done without the help of REME Recovery Mechanics, members of the Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squadron (JARTS), and Babcock Technicians. The move of the Scout took the whole day, starting with it being brought down from the plinth, then wheeled up a road with a police escort and finally put onto a low loader for transfer to Lyneham.

The Man SVR had to get as close as possible to get the Scout down
The Man SVR had to get as close as possible to get the Scout down
Lift off!
Lift off!
Wheeled down the road with a police escort
Wheeled down the road with a police escort
Onto the low loader
Onto the low loader

A video showing the move of the Scout throughout the day can be seen on You Tube: https://youtu.be/K8Lgn-8PTgI

The Scout isn’t the only larger item which we have been packing in recent weeks. In the Museum’s former Meeting Room there was a large model depicting the D-Day landings. This model was built in situ and had been in place for the past 20 years. It proved quite a challenge for staff and packers on how we were going to be able to take it apart so that we could put it back together again.

D Day model divided into sections
D Day model divided into sections

The model was divided into sections and photographs of these sections taken at multiple angles. Each section was then dismantled and put into marked bags showing where it came from.

The model will be back on show in Lyneham.

The next few weeks will see larger items and vehicles moved into our new hangar in Lyneham. From the 1st October, the rest of the collections will start being moved across with staff following behind.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

Only 8 weeks to go….

With over 5000 objects now packed, the Museum is filling up with boxes and empty cases. Information panels are coming down, and our mannequins and old display items are finding new homes in other museums.

View of the Vehicle HallThe dioramas surrounding the vehicles in the Prince Philip Vehicle Hall are being dismantled with sand, gravel and rocks being moved outside. The surrounding information panels are being dismantled and within a fortnight our Scout helicopter will be brought down from its stand onto the floor, ready to be loaded and transferred to Lyneham.

So far the packing has been carried out by Museum staff and volunteers. Next week, professional packers will be coming in to help us dismantle and pack other larger and more awkward displays.

Just as things are coming to a close in Arborfield, things are starting to open in Lyneham. The new Museum is almost complete and looks fantastic.

WW2 Gallery

Visitors will enter the new Museum via our World War Two gallery. This photo shows the view towards the doors which visitors will be entering through. As well as vehicles, we will also be displaying items associated with D-Day, Prisoners of War, messages back to loved ones at home and items collected by soldiers whilst on operations.

More vehicles will be displayed in a second, larger vehicle hall to show the range of campaigns and environments where REME men and women have been.

Large vehicle hall

Before and after photos show just how much work has gone into making our new home suitable as a Museum. These two photos are of the education suite. The first was taken in March this year, the second was taken August this year. The change is dramatic!

Education suite before

Education suite after

Museum staff have continued to work with the Designers, PLB, to create the new layout and displays. A series of concept drawings have helped to bring to life the plans so far.

These images show the large vehicle hall and the REME Relaxed gallery which will look at the day to day lives of REME soldiers, including their families, social and sporting clubs, and mess functions.

Concept for large vehicle hall

Concept for REME relaxed

We still have a lot of work ahead of us and no doubt a few challenges, but there is a fantastic team of staff and volunteers all working together to make the new Museum a fantastic visitor experience and a place which the Corps can be proud of.

Jennifer Allison – Curator