Thank you to all our Volunteers

Volunteers have been incredibly important to the Museum for many years. They have helped with research, exhibitions, archiving and education to name just a few of the projects.

Over the past few months, volunteers have been a vital part of the packing process at the Museum. Since April, an additional 12 volunteers joined us in the mammoth task of packing up the numerous objects which we have on display and in storage. Training them in the early days, it has been an absolute joy getting to know each one of them and seeing them grow in confidence. They are now aware of various conservation issues including approaching me with items possibly affected by pest damage.

There have been several occasions when we have come across something truly remarkable in the collection. I remember the day that our volunteer, Reg, came across an extremely ornate presentation piece containing several tools and apprentice pieces. He kept looking at it, admiring its craftsmanship.

Presentation piecePresentation piece (2) (2)

Another time I remember was when our volunteer Paul marveled at the weird and wonderful things which we had in the collection, such as a tub of grease and ear defenders which were donated by a workshop.

I can honestly say that the staff and volunteers have enjoyed looking through and packing the variety of objects which we have, and learning about the breadth of REME’s involvement in various campaigns and countries.Salerno wheel

Tuesday the 11th August was a momentous occasion where we saw the last item, a workshop shovel, being packed by our volunteer Ida. This was also the day when we packed our ship’s wheel found in Salerno. The item was packed so well that the shape of the object is still obvious despite the layers of conservation materials!

Wheel

As we laid the last item on the pile of objects packed that day, there were mixed feelings of relief and sadness that the giant task of preparing the collection for transport was now complete.

WVolunteer Barbecue 2015ednesday saw us celebrating this achievement with a barbecue in the Museum grounds. The weather was kind as we enjoyed the heat and company of those around us. Talking over sausages and burgers, we reminisced about fun times and our plans for the future.

Volunteer Barbecue 2015

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all the wonderful volunteers who gave up their time to help the Museum with this next stage in moving to Lyneham. I am confident that the objects will be safe in transit and we look forward to unwrapping them at the other end.

Juliet Turk – Assistant Curator

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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

VW’s, Vehicles and Packing

VW signThe last weekend of May saw Museum staff at the VW Expo at Stonor Park. Despite all the rain it was a great day with lots of visitors enjoying themselves. Organised by the Association of British VW Clubs, there was a variety of stalls and displays, as well as competitions.

The Museum became involved with the event due to our historic link with VW. REME Officers, Major Ivan Hirst and Colonel Michael McEvoy, played a key role in rebuilding the VW factory in Germany after the Second World War.

The Corps are very proud of this link, and the Museum enjoys supporting events whenever we can.

Beetles NightmareUnfortunately the weather on Sunday meant that we couldn’t put our banners out as they might have ended up being blown into Henley town centre. We were able to display a variety of VW models created by our Technical Historian Brian Baxter. These were a big hit with visitors of all ages, especially ‘A Beetle’s Nightmare’.

Packing is still one of the major tasks underway in the Museum. As well as packing up the collection in Arborfield, we also have a large collection in Bordon, Hampshire which we have started preparing for the move. This is where most of our historic vehicle collection is kept and for the new Museum we are hoping to bring out and display some of the vehicles which have been stored here.

Our small army of volunteers are very busy in Arborfield, packing plaques, name boards, models and a variety of other items. We are surrounded by boxes, bubble wrap, archival tissue paper and lots of tags. Our stores are almost completely boxed up now, and the main displays have begun to be dismantled.

More meetings with the designers are coming up in the next week so more specifics about the main display will be available soon.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

Corridor 2 after
Corridor 2 ‘before’ photo
Corridor 2 before
Corridor 2 ‘after’ photo

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

Out and About

The Museum has now been closed for over a week. Although quiet from the outside we are keeping very busy behind the scenes.

In January 2014, PLB were selected to be the Museum Designers to help create the new Museum in Lyneham. PLB were also responsible for displays at the Tank Museum, and so we organised a trip down to Bovington to have a look at what had been done.

P1020512Staff had a great day. We were very warmly welcomed by staff of the Tank Museum, and as well as a tour of the galleries we were also able to see the stores and archives and find out more about the design and installation process. We left feeling inspired!

Last week also saw us saying goodbye to the shop and café staff, Ken Wilmott, Emma Bacon, Shirley Tizard and Sandra Gilbert. All will be missed, and we wish them all the best in the future.

The latest update in regard to building works sees the Museum still being in its new home in October 2015. And as a sign that things are picking up pace and moving forward, other sections of the Corps will start moving in within the next few weeks.

The first of many training sessions also took place as the Museum needs as many volunteers as possible to help with packing up all the items.

The training looks at how to handle objects safely, especially needed with our collection so that no handles fall off our items from the 1940s, and what material to use to pack items. The Museum uses archive quality material which means that items will stay safe and be preserved for much longer. No sellotape or blue tack to be seen anywhere, and we also provide everyone with gloves – it’s for your own protection as much as the objects.

Volunteers have the chance to find out about damage which can be done by various bugs and pests and how to identify them, and of course the chance to handle, research and pack historic items of importance to the REME Corps.

If you are interested in volunteering then please get in touch to find out more.

Next week will see the contracted movers coming in to do a final assessment, after which we will start taking the displays apart. There will also be a meeting with the Museum Designers to discuss the selection and location of the vehicles in the new Museum.

Jennifer Allison – Curator

        Vol Recruit Poster May 2015

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