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

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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

A New School Session

20160704_eduoffr_legostem_image6-image-kate-mcfarlane“Everything is awesome… I learnt a lot of new things about REME engineering”. This was the response from a 10 year old pupil at Lyneham Primary School to the Museum’s latest education workshop. Since the Museum moved to Lyneham, we have been busy working with schools to develop new, exciting workshops and our latest project looks like it will be one of the best we’ve ever offered.

Being new to north Wiltshire, a focus group was run with local Primary School teachers to see what we could offer our new audience. Of the may ideas discussed, the teachers wanted a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) workshop based on the interesting and unique vehicles which will be on display in the Museum. Lego Education was seen to be a wonderful material to work with, and one which could help us to meet the need of local schools. The pupils could engage with it whilst making it easier to build complex machines in the short timeframe which schools have during a Museum visit. The only issue with using Lego was expense, and this was made more of an issue when buying for a class of over 30 pupils. So, financial support would have to be obtained to make this project a reality.

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Funding was sought from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Engineering Education Grant Scheme. With their assistance, and guidance from Lieutenant Colonel Ian Parsons (Chair of Western Region IMechE), the Museum was able to purchase multiple Lego sets, each with a battery pack, motor, axles, pulleys, gears and much more.

The Museum also teamed up with Lyneham Primary School, who supplied class space and pupils to run six trial workshops. Pupils were paired up and tasked to design and build a powered recovery vehicle in an hour, which could then tow a toy truck. The children loved getting stuck into the Lego sets and many fantastic designs were produced. “The best part of the workshop is that you can do your own design” commented one Year 4 girl.

The most challenging part for the children was converting the power of the motor to the wheels via some form of transmission. Thankfully they had the support of 3 Artificer Sergeant Majors: Warrant Officer 1st Class Flynn, Hart and Watson, from 8 Training Battalion REME. With their help the pupils were able to use a combination of cogs, axles and pulleys to power their recovery vehicles.

20160705_eduoffr_legostem_image5-image-oliver-parrThe workshops were a great success and the Museum received excellent feedback from all involved. The next step will be to run more workshops using this new Lego Education resource in the Museum, once we’re open to the public.

The Museum would like to thank the IMechE and IET for their support in this project. The project’s success was also down to the staff and pupils of Lyneham Primary School, who were willing subjects for this trial. The support of the institute members for these early trials has been crucial in helping the Museum get the learning level right for these initial trial workshops.

As a result of this project, the Museum now has the resources and experience to run Lego engineering workshops with visiting schools. By using the exciting collection in the Museum we can engage with even more young people and help inspire a new generation of engineers.

Oliver Parr – Education Officer

 

 

The New Archive

The Archives are now settled in to our new home in a brand new re-configured and climate controlled storage facility, with equipment for digitisation. This makes it so much easier to look after the Archives according to professional standards.

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In Arborfield, the Archives were stored in three separate parts: the Documentary Archives, the Pictorial Archives and the Technical Archives. In Lyneham, these have been merged into one Archive under myself, the new Museum Archivist, who with great foresight managed to avoid the unpacking of the crates and boxes by starting in February this year and so missing the decanting process. I am so grateful to my Museum colleagues who liberated the material from the packing boxes and placed them on the new shelves.

We now have all the Archives handily located in one room, on mobile shelving and our collections of EMERs and AESPS have a special room all of their own.

Since moving in, we have been arranging and sorting out the collections storage, acquiring new material, assessing the Archives Service and making arrangements to improve the way the Archive is managed and services delivered. Although not yet open, we look forward to receiving enquiries and visitors once we are, and so we are working on getting our enquiries and research service ready.

Working with me in the Archives is the new Corps Historian, my colleague in archives and research and fount of REME knowledge, who you will hear from soon on this blog.

As a newbie, it has been (and remains) a steep learning curve and quite a journey to get to know the collections and learn more about REME and the Corps history: from Land Rovers to LADs; BARVs, CRARRVs and ARVs; from Egypt to East Africa; from Burma to Belize; from Italy to India – working with the Museum Archives is like taking a world tour!

Celia Cassingham – Museum Archivist

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REME in East Africa, 1953-54

 

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Typical recovery in Burma

Latest news from the REME Museum

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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
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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!

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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!

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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.

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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