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

The Last Freedom Parade

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Museum with activities happening on site and off site.

Last week started with designer meetings where we looked at the other gallery spaces which are available. As well as the two vehicle halls which have been discussed in earlier posts, we will also have areas dedicated to the trades of the Corps, the structure of the Corps and the family side of the Corps. There will also be a room dedicated to remembrance and achievements.

A large part of the work now involves looking at our collections and deciding which items will help us tell the story of REME. This week we have specifically looked at our Second World War gallery and have been considering themes such as uniforms, communication with families and loved ones, propaganda and prisoners of war.

We have come across some very interesting items which aren’t currently on display, including a roof tile from Hiroshima, sawdust bread given to prisoners of war and a bandage decorated with instructions on how to use it depending on your injury.

Other items include a REME flag flown at the Battle of El-Alamein by Recovery Section of No 1 AMT Depot, and desert goggles given to H Benson, a fitter with a Light Aid Detachment from 30 Corps Workshop REME, by Field Marshall Montgomery.

REME Flag

The story behind the goggles is that they belonged to General Von Thoma who commanded the Africa Corps at El-Alamein where he was captured. The goggles were taken off him and passed to Montgomery who then passed them on to Benson after he carried out a repair on Monty’s car.

Desert Goggles

Sunday 14th June saw the final REME Freedom of Wokingham Parade. REME were granted the Freedom of Wokingham in 1978, and a parade has been held on a number of occasions. Freedom of Wokingham 2It was a fantastic turn out from the local community and a great display by REME.

Freedom of Wokingham 1

Although REME had their last Parade in Wokingham, in Stockton-on-Tees the Corps has just been granted Freedom of the Town and will be having their first parade next week. As part of this the Museum has loaned out a number of items to be put on display in their Rediscover Stockton shop on the High Street. The display will be in place for several weeks.

Next week also sees Armed Forces day. Our Education Officer, Oliver Parr has been busy travelling out to schools in the Wiltshire area to host assemblies around this topic and will be able to give an update next week.

And now, it’s back to packing!

Jennifer Allison – Curator

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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