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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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Over the past year, I have been researching and trialling a number of Reminiscence sessions as part of making the Museum more age friendly. Four sessions have now been delivered to memory groups and care homes in Chippenham, Royal Wootton Bassett and Calne.

The most recent of these took place at the Chippenham Memory Café which is run by the Alzheimer’s Society. Walking in with my box of objects, I was thrilled to see so many people had turned up.

The session, titled ‘Craftsman of the Army’, talks groups through what REME do and the different trades which make up the Corps, but also has a practical element of handling Museum objects. It is the perfect introduction to REME and allows ex-members of the Corps to reminisce about their time in the Corps. It was a wonderful surprise to see two ex-REMEs in the audience, an ex-Radar Technician and an ex-Vehicle Mechanic.

The group was very enthusiastic about handling the various objects I passed around including a Battledress jacket, cap badges, large Churchill tank spanner and reproduction photographs from the Archives.

After packing away the last object, I turned around to see the ex-Vehicle Mechanic on his feet. He started to share his memories of changing engines in the dark and cold, saying that they were great years of his life.

It’s hard to quantify the worth of these sessions but my final conversation confirmed the impact that they can have. A lady who sat at the back and remained silent throughout was upset by the memories that were sparked from the topic. I went over to comfort her, feeling bad that she had perhaps not enjoyed the session. She assured me otherwise by pointing to her red poppy pinned to her jumper and saying “We will remember them”.

Juliet Turk – Assistant Curator