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


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

Bringing down a Phoenix

It’s been a couple of very busy weeks at the Museum with lots of different projects happening.

VolunteerArmourers Halls and staff have continued packing the collection. We are now surrounded by boxes, the displays are starting to look empty and there is an echo in some of the corridors. As well as the thousands of smaller items, volunteers and staff have begun dismantling our Armourer’s Hall display.

The display showcased over a hundred weapons from different periods to demonstrate the development of firearms. It was one of the most popular displays with visitors, and we hope to make it even better in the new location.

Another of our key displays was dismantled at the beginning of this week. The Phoenix Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was brought down off its stand with help from the Aviation team at Arborfield.
Dismantling Phoenix

Dismantling Phoenix As you can see from the photos, the Curator was also hard at work making sure the moment was captured on film!

The Phoenix has now been put into storage ready for transfer to Lyneham. When it arrives it will need some TLC after its years of being on display outside. Once it is ready it will become part of the permanent display inside the main Museum where the intention is to suspend it from the ceiling. Dismantling Phoenix 3

The Museum had more good news in that a site has also been secured for our historic vehicle collection. This collection is currently located in Bordon. Due to restricted access it is difficult for the public to gain entry to see these vehicles, but this will all change in our new home where they will be much more accessible.

Work continues on the new displays, and there have been more focus groups with the eight different trades of the Corps to get feedback on layout, subjects and interactives. We are now moving into the final stages of the design process.

And finally, we were happy to receive photos of our 25 Pounder Field Guns and Morris Commercial on display outside the Mess of 7 Air Assault Battalion. Readers will remember that we loaned these items out as part of their VE themed Summer Ball. We’re really glad that they helped to set the scene and make the evening a success.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

Objects outside Mess

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

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