Notes from a Volunteer 1

The relocation to Lyneham couldn’t happen without the help of our volunteers who have been busy packing up the collection. Over the next few months some of these volunteers will be writing about their experience with the Museum and the collection.

We hope you enjoy!

Jennifer Allison – Curator

Notes from a Volunteer Part 1

My name is Robert Davey and I am a very happy volunteer at the REME Museum in Arborfield. I have been a volunteer since 2012, based in the Technical Archive.

Robert Davey packing
Volunteer Robert Davey packing items from the collection

I became a volunteer as I have an interest in World War Two and a     background in office work and computers, so sorting out the paperwork in the Technical Archives is ideal for me.

Recently I have also been involved in packing items from the reserve stores ready for the move to Lyneham. These items from the stores        always amaze me with their diversification and quality. Amongst some of the more day-to-day items is the occasional ‘gem’ which makes the packing much more interesting.

For example, recently I was sorting through some standard webbing items from a soldier’s uniform, when I discovered some very rare sealed pattern examples. These were used by the Ordnance corps to send to        suppliers as a master pattern to copy.

Some of my favourite items which I have found while packing are a       wartime Bomber crew over suit in very good condition, and a Megger tester used for checking resistance in capacitors in vehicle electrics. I also came across a pre-war Army gas mask.

If you would like to volunteer, you will get a good welcome at the          Museum.

Robert Davey – Volunteer


Designing the Museum

Museum staff and designers PLB have been busy working on the new Museum design.

Over the past few months, staff have been out and about holding focus groups with REME soldiers and officers, members of the local community in Arborfield, and members of the local community in Lyneham, including families.

We’ve listened to what you’ve said and have looked at the strengths of the collection and the key stories which need to be told.

We have now begun creating the new layout and selecting subjects and objects to be included.

Concept Design - Armoury

The visitor will begin their experience in galleries looking at World War Two and find out why the Corps was formed. They will end their experience in a display dedicated to REME successes. The bits in between are still being worked out, but it is planned to have a large display dedicated to the trades learnt by the Corps, a new vehicle hall showing the variety of vehicles and operations which REME have been involved in, and also areas dedicated to REME achievements outside of military duties, such as sports.

Concept Design - Vehicle HallWe are returning to our collections of oral histories and letters to try and find key information which will allow the REME story to be told by REME members in their own words. We are also searching through our Pictorial Archives to be able to use more images of REME both at work and at play.

Over the next few months we plan on having more focus groups to trial the ideas we are developing.

In the meantime, packing continues and we have started to dismantle our display cases and return items which had been on loan to us.

All staff are hands on with this, including our Business Manager, Lt Col (Retd) John Edwards who can be seen below dismantling our Wokingham display, and the subsequent empty case and wall. Items on loan to us from the Wokingham Council have now been returned and we have donated the panels of information to them for use in their own displays.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

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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

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All images courtesy of Ted Burnham LBIPP, LRPS

Lowering the flag

REME Museum is on the Move!

Museum Front

REME Museum is due to close to the public after the 25th April to start preparations for its relocation to MoD Lyneham, Wiltshire.

To celebrate our final day, the Museum will be having a ‘Last Big Bash’.

Please see our website for more details:

Jennifer Allison – Curator