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

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

 

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.

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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.

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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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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

Email us on enquiries@rememuseum.org.uk

All images courtesy of Ted Burnham LBIPP, LRPS

Lowering the flag