MUSEUM UPDATE- MAY 2023
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Mike Mumford MBE
Museum Re-opens. The Museum re-opened for the summer on Good Friday 7th April. We had been closed since the end of October last year – closed but certainly not idle. During the winter the Curator, Jack Bolton, and his team of hard-working volunteers consisting of Bill Shirley, Dick Mather, Andy Milton, David Inglis, Phil Bell and Mark Jones had been concentrating on rather less glamorous but equally as important tasks. Since we have re-opened our volunteer ranks have been increased by the arrival of Andy Peters, Chris Gould, Nathan Hayward and John Watson for whose help we are very grateful.
Medals: Much work has been carried out on the medals, their associated barcodes and the InfoAktiv scripts. The medals are gradually being refurbished and re-mounted by The Worcester Medal Company – one of the company directors is the brother of a QOH Old Comrade, Douggie Vaux, so the company is very generous in their dealings with us. We underestimated the work involved and some of the technical problems to be overcome so, unfortunately, have not met our end-of-last-year target for completion. There are also the Infoaktiv campaigns remaining to be written.
Weapons: Work on decommissioning the outstanding weapons has been completed and those weapons we are retaining have been collected from the workshop. The remaining weapons have been sold and the sale value has covered the cost of the decommissioning work which was always part of the contract, therefore no money has passed hands.
Blackshaw Museum: Sadly the Regiment does not have the space in Tidworth to display items from the Blackshaw Museum so the majority are now in the Reserve Collection because we have had neither the time nor the space to be able to do anything else with them. A few artefacts are on display in both Tidworth and the Museum. Regrettably, that will remain the case until 2TM is complete and both buildings are fully established and organised.
Audits. Audits will be carried out on the Archives, the Library and the Reserve Collection but these have not started yet and will take some considerable time to complete: plans are in place to begin these tasks with support from the volunteers later this year.
2 Trinity Mews Project.
- The 2TM project started in the latter half of January.
- Phase 1 of the project, which is now complete, saw the structural refurbishment of a small conference room with AV facilities to seat 10/12 and lecture/reception facilities for some 30 both of which we hope will be attractive for hire to the local community and create an income for the Museum.
- Phase 2 of the project is the design and build of the Museum display features for the newly re-furbished 2TM centred on ‘The Parker Room’. They will, in part, be funded by a very generous legacy left to the Collection Trust by Major Sir Michael Parker, KCVO, CBE late QOH. This display which will be named overall The Parker Gallery will be populated by many splendid artefacts from both the Parker collection and all our Regiments past and present. We hope this display will be the main attraction for groups and individuals wishing to hire the premises for their event(s) rather than opting for the more run-of-the-mill locations like the Hilton Hotel or other commercial premises.
Staff: We have recently employed a part-time (one day/week) Facilities Manager to relieve the Curator of many more routine tasks. Currently, he has to complete these tasks by default, but they do not form part of his job and therefore rather detract from his curatorial duties. This is proving to be a great success.
Finances: We are extremely grateful for the financial support we receive from various sources – we are fortunate to come into contact on occasion with some very generous people. Without wishing to appear greedy we will always be struggling to some degree because the Museum is an expensive ‘beast’ to run and our footfall, like any small military museum, will never be that great. If you feel you could donate in any way to the Museum we would be hugely grateful and would ask you to contact Major Jim Austin, the Regimental Secretary, for details.
Summary: The future looks bright, the future looks orange, but it would not have been thus without the terrific support we have received and continue to receive from Andrew Bellamy, Richard Currie and the Regimental Trustee Board. Without this support, in all its forms, we certainly would not be in the position in which we are very fortunate to find ourselves now. A big thank you, as always to them and everyone else connected with the Museum for all the hard work they put in. However as the Museum grows so does our urgent need for even more volunteer help: if you think you can spare us a few hours now and then please contact Jack Bolton, Curator, on 01926-402459 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Opening of the Museum – A message from Brig Nick Smith, Chairman of the Regimental Collection Trust
I am delighted not to be explaining the reasons for another delay. Finally, we are on the threshold of opening the Museum. We are very fortunate that, despite 2 postponements, HRH The Princess Royal will open the Museum on 4 April, to fulfil the commitment she made to HRH Prince Philip. This now seems very fitting, being just days after his Memorial Service.
The size of the Museum has limited the number of people that can attend the opening and, unfortunately, meant that we have not been able to invite all those we would have wished to include.
So many have contributed in different ways, particularly as donors, and it is with much regret that we are only able to include a limited number. We realise that many will be disappointed and can only ask for your understanding. The day will be filmed and plenty of photographs taken which we will circulate.
We have been asked to explain that, due to its location, the Museum is not a good place for people to come to, to observe the opening.
The Princess Royal will drive straight into and away from the Mews so there will be nothing to observe and congregating outside would be potentially dangerous, on what are busy roads. Again, your understanding is sought and you are asked not to come and watch.
We are, however, delighted that we are able to welcome all who wish to join us for the Public Opening at 1000 on Fri 15th Apr. The Mayor will be present and it would be splendid to see Members of the Association there. Entry is free that day so any family or friends who come with you will also be free to enter.
After all this time you might think everything has been tied off and put to bed but it has been surprising how frenetic the last few months have been and continue to be. There remains work to do, to complete all the detail we wish to include. This is despite realising last year that we had to draw a line and focus on completing what was planned.
In addition to this work, we still have the display area in 2 Trinity Mews to develop, to accommodate Sir Michael Parker’s Collection, and we already have a list of changes that we wish to implement, not least a display of the late Colonel in Chief’s uniforms which Her Majesty has very kindly given to the Collection.
Although we believe the Museum looks splendid, we very much recognise that it will always be evolving.
Update – December 2021
Some members will have been at Warwick for the preview opening of the Museum and will have seen where we are, but for those who were not able to get to Warwick, we are nearly there. After all the fences we have had to jump we are now definitely on the run-in.
Most displays are now complete, less the text notations that are in production and some of the e-content for the Medal and AV displays. Inevitably new ideas keep arising, but we have agreed to draw a firm line and accept that we will now just complete and not make any further change, whilst remaining open to new ideas or content, and planning for incremental development after opening.
We received a few constructive comments and much positive feedback after the Preview so we are content we are delivering a museum that will meet the expectations of the Regiment and the wider Regimental Family, as well as offering an appropriate showcase for those coming to discover The Queen’s Royal Hussars. We continue to plan to open in the Spring of 2022, around Easter. The Princess Royal has indicated that she remains content to formally open the Museum unless of course a new Colonel in Chief is appointed. We have offered a wide window of April or May.
2 Trinity Mews
Plans are evolving to develop 2 Trinity Mews. Central to this is the design for the Parker Gallery which is evolving through discussion with Sir Michael. Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to take the project forward until after we have the Museum open but the Gallery is taking shape and will be a valuable additional part of the Museum.
We recognised it was time to transition from the team that had been engaged in the evolution and development of the Museum to a new team, focussed on making the Museum a successful visitor attraction.
That transition is now underway. Chris Coles, Andrew Lloyd (AMOT) and Hugh Phillips have stood down. They have all contributed hugely to the project and we have been extremely fortunate to have benefitted from their tireless and selfless efforts, without which we would not be where we are today.
They leave with our heartfelt thanks. Matt Cocup, Charles Davies and Dr Heidi Meyer (Master Lord Leycester Hospital) have now joined, and we are delighted to have them on board.
In addition, Sam Dewhurst is being read in and joins at the next meeting. The plan is for Alex Wilson to take over as Chairman after opening next year. Mike Mumford and Jeremy Metcalfe have very kindly agreed to continue for a while and will provide invaluable continuity.
David Walker, our long-standing curator left early in the summer. David has been central to the development of the Museum and most particularly to the production of the vast amount of material that has had to be generated. His clear and straightforward style has provided easily digestible narratives and explanations which has brought the exhibits to life. He saw his involvement as a labour of love and we have benefitted hugely from the time and dedicated commitment he has invested in the Museum which goes way beyond what could have been asked for or expected.
We now have a novel arrangement of a full-time Assistant Curator and part-time Curator. This keeps the wage bill manageable whilst providing knowledge and experience and the resilience of not being dependent on one person. John Rochester has taken over as curator. He has come from the Royal Hospital Museum and is moving to Warwick. He works for AMOT and is contracted to us for 2 days per week. Jack Bolton, The Assistant Curator, is young and highly enthusiastic and his involvement with us has developed progressively, following the production, on contract, of continually impressive content.
HHQ remains vital to the Museum. Jim Austin’s ongoing involvement as a Trustee, Secretary and holder of the Collection Trust Account remains invaluable and we are all immensely grateful for his ongoing highly efficient and enthusiastic engagement.
Seamus Hamilton’s involvement has steadily increased, and we are delighted with how this is evolving. He has developed a first-rate website of the highest quality which will be a terrific asset and is doing increasingly more to support the Museum. He is running a much-needed full stocktake of all the Collection Trust assets and we look forward to this engagement continuing to develop.
The Museum remains on a sound financial footing but the scope to accommodate any further unforeseen costs is now limited. A steady-state has been planned for after opening but inevitably it is dependent on many assumptions, not least the footfall, a key part of the Museum’s income. It is highly likely that further fund-raising efforts are going to be necessary.
As ever there will be an ongoing need for volunteers to help us run the Museum once it is open. The staffing level required will be greater than we have experienced in the past, so if you can perhaps offer us some valuable time – even half a day a fortnight – we would be extremely grateful.
Update – December 2020
This time last year I explained the latest, largely unforeseen, fences that it had been necessary to negotiate and commented that I expected most who had followed the New Museum project would be wondering whether they would ever see the Museum completed. This was said in expectation that we would be opening in the Spring of this year. I should have known better; how could I not have foreseen that a pandemic would hove over the horizon.
We have, as you would expect, been heavily impacted by the current crisis. Some consequences have been entirely predictable. Work had to be put on hold as contractors reacted to restrictions and, as we are not spring chickens, caution as well as strict regulation also slowed progress.
We did, however, also see some of the unexpected consequences of the constraints imposed and support provided, on how businesses reacted to the crisis. For example, perhaps not surprisingly, the intent of companies to maximise the return that they could exact from the furlough scheme meant that delay rather than impetus resulted.
We recognised the inevitable consequences early on and accepted that another year would be lost but then set about trying to dig into the detail: to identify what could be completed, or indeed be done better or another way and whether there was anything in what was left pending that needed exposure and where appropriate addressing.
The result has been many improvements and a greater degree of confidence that the finished product will be what we have been seeking to achieve.
So what is the current situation? The huge step forward has been installation of the Museum furniture. This was all made up in York and had been sitting up there, awaiting installation. It was finally brought down and fitted in October. 1 Trinity Mews now looks like a Museum, as can be seen from the photographs. The cabinets are all there waiting to receive their artefacts and for the next stage of installation to proceed.
Although there is still much to do, we are confident of being able to maintain the momentum as we are now in direct contact with those responsible for each of the outstanding elements. We are engaged with all those involved and looking forward to seeing colour, character and sophistication emerge as work progresses.
We had hoped for completion early in the new year but the latest lockdown and ongoing restrictions mean, realistically, it will not be until well into next year.
It may well be regarded as rash, after so many delays, to be anticipating completion but we have to plan for what we believe will now be possible. We are very fortunate that The Princess Royal has agreed to try again to open the Museum, on behalf of her Father, and we are currently investigating a date in late Spring or early Summer, although this of course may have to slip again.
Last year I expressed my thanks to those who had carried the burden of progressing the project and it is even more appropriate that I do so again this year as instead of being able to sit back and contemplate the fruits of their efforts they have had redouble their commitment, to work through the turmoil of this year and to postpone stepping aside in order to see the project through.
Mike Mumford has been tireless in his daily stewardship of the project, which has continued to be a fulltime commitment and the other Trustees, particularly Hugh Phillip and Jeremy Metcalfe, have been instrumental in finding solutions and doing the heavy lifting that has been needed.
We continue to be hugely grateful to Robert Crichton and John Walcot for their efforts in reviewing the display content and I must again mention the extraordinary contribution of our curator, David Walker.
Finding the right words to bring the displays to life is a skill not many possess. Brevity, colour and sentiment all need to be achieved whilst balancing detail and the need to appeal to a wide audience. We are very fortunate that in David we not only have someone who can do this but who has also put up with short notice and often unreasonable deadlines. He has been central to what we now at last seeing emerge in print and we owe him a huge debt.
Funding, of course, remains a headache and we are very grateful to those who have contributed, both directly and through their efforts. We have decided not to shake the tin again for now, feeling it will be better to allow the finished product to speak for itself. There will be a need for more support but we feel this can best be sought when individuals can identify with something tangible.
As we at last look to opening the Museum it will be a time to bring in fresh blood, to allow those who have delivered it to pass the baton to those who can take the Museum forward. The Museum will be something that the wider Regimental family will be immensely proud of and will offer a rewarding opportunity to those who feel that they could contribute. Do please get in touch if this is something that may interest you. Please do not wait to be asked.
Update – October 2019
As we close on the round of Autumn events and Remembrance all those engaged in the new museum project feel confident that not only have we reached terminal velocity but, after many unexpected twists, we can look to conclusion and the opening of the Museum with confidence.
Finalisation of design and the emergence of detailed content has followed the successful re-negotiation and the letting of contracts with those who are fitting out the museum.
Thanks to the ongoing immense effort of David Walker and Robert Crichton and the other reviewers the production and refinement of text and graphics is well advanced and being well received by the contractors.
The splendid building of 1 Trinity Mews is full of character and seems to have been determined to ensure it is not taken for granted. Most recently revealing significant issues in the roof, not detected in the survey, which in the end required the whole roof to be replaced.
This major undertaking was thankfully speedily completed with remarkably little fuss and the finalisation of the internal work was then able to follow over the summer and autumn. The end result being an even better space than had been anticipated.
The continuing development and review of content and oversight and refinement of the displays will continue over the winter as the contractors deliver and fit the interior. Enticingly we will finally start to see the interior take shape.
Completion is expected in the spring and the formal opening scheduled for the summer of 2020. Firm dates will follow as soon as we are able to confirm who will be opening the museum.
Funding as ever remains a challenge and we are hugely grateful to those who have made great efforts to provide support.
Andy Milton and the Worcester Troop have again been fantastic, Janet Mabot continues to do a huge amount and we have all followed Tom Hamilton and his epic trecks up the UK’s five major peaks in support of the Museum that have followed on from the production of his book Caught in a Cam Net.
Very many thanks to them all. I hope their efforts might prove to be inspirational to others.
I cannot end without thanking those who tirelessly and selflessly continue to bring the project to a successful conclusion.
For Mike Mumford it has continued to be a full time commitment and the ongoing huge contributions by Hugh Philips and Jeremy Metcalfe have been essential to enable us to get to where we now are.
What is at last emerging is testament to their vision and dedication.
Update on the Museum Roof – March 2019
The scaffold build was delayed by 3 weeks firstly by a slight lack of communication – nobody told us that the Warwick Marathon was taking place on one of the days and was due to pass directly under the scaffold build! Secondly it was delayed by the arrival of Storm Gareth, which not unnaturally hastened the departure of the roofers.
Eventually the gods were on our side and the scaffold build was completed on Friday 15th March.
The plan now is to open up one half of the roof working under cover of a tarpaulin that is re-fastened every night, view the repairs that come to light once the builders can get into the roof space and replace whatever is necessary in that part of the roof.
Once that half of the roof is complete the library and stores in the opposite end of the attic will be moved to under cover of the newly re-furbished half of the roof and the other end will be completed.
Estimated time for completion dependent on the amount of work required is some 8 weeks. Brickwork repairs and repainting of the windows and frames will be completed from the scaffolding whilst it is in place.
Lt Col Tom Hamilton
The Collection Trustees who are responsible for the design and build of the new Regimental Museum are very grateful indeed to Lt Col Tom Hamilton for the very generous gestures he continues to show in his fundraising for the Project.
Tom walked from Catterick to Bovington Camp in 2017 and he has recently written his excellent book, Caught in a Cam Net. These together have raised £6200+ to date with more expected from book sale royalties.
Thank you, Tom, from us all for your incredible efforts and for supporting the new Museum Project by donating the amazing results of those efforts. Your help is more than appreciated.
A Q&A Update on the Museum Progress
Question: Why has progress on completion of the Museum Project fallen so far behind the expected stage completion dates?
Answer: The main contributing factor has been that during internal building work a number of faults have been discovered with the fabric of the Museum including the roof that may entail a considerable amount of work. None of these faults were picked up by the Building Survey and the additional costs now required to enable repairs to be carried out were not envisaged during the project planning.
Question: When will the Museum finally be open?
Answer: This is entirely dependent on what repairs are found to be necessary to the fabric of the roof once the tiles have been removed. As soon as we have definite information we will pass this on. We are unable to start on the internal displays until the fabric of the building is secure.
Question: Is there any progress with the content of the Museum?
Answer: We are in the process of agreeing the internal design of the Museum displays with our chosen Museum designer, PLB of York. The design work can be continued as the repairs to the roof are being completed. We continue to receive new artefacts for display and in particular we have been loaned part of the material displayed in the Blackshaw Museum previously held by the Regiment in Sennelager.
Question: Is there any way we can help?
Answer: Fund raising is still very much alive. Any further donations that you can raise will have a very positive effect on completing the project and opening the Museum. We are also actively seeking volunteers: so if you think you may have a specific talent and would like to become involved please do contact email@example.com
The latest update as at October 2018 can be found below:
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