King's Own Royal Regiment Museum
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First World War
Second World War
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King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum
Annual Report 1996/97
April 1996 to March 1997
This past year has been unique in museum history in terms of volume of work, redevelopment, and fund raising. Whilst many Regimental Museums are facing an uncertain future the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum is well placed for the future. With the redevelopment of the gallery well underway the museum should meet its key objective in the next financial year based upon the firm foundations of this year.
The successful temporary exhibition in the downstairs Room 2 had to close to allow the continuation of the City Museums exhibition programme. There was a brief period before the opening of the new displays on the mezzanine floor. The completion of the case installation by Securex and the fitting out by the museum design department was a major step forward.
Topics covered in the displays include ‘The Regimental Association’ ‘Regimental Silver’ and for the first time a display about all of the Regiments Victoria Cross winners. Previous exhibitions have only featured those winners for whom we have medals or exhibits.
The displays now open have proved very popular and have continued to ensure that the King’s Own has material on display.
The summer saw much planning and debate relating to the design of the main cases and exhibition.
Design officer, Paul Thompson, got to grips with what was going to be displayed in the section detailing the chronological history of the Regiment. These plans were turned into display cases by Securex, who installed them in September.
Whilst this was on going I continued to research the content. Text for panels was circulated and feedback considered. Choice of photographic images for use in the displays is also well advanced. Museums and galleries in the UK and North America have been established as sources of material.
The museum commissioned a painting by the local artist, Frank Perkins, of the Battle of Culloden. This work - measuring 13 ft by 6 ft - will provide an impressive first sight for visitors to the gallery.
Much of the work was held up due to continued doubt over funding. Although the Heritage Lottery Fund grant was announced in September 1995 the Trustees have still to sign a contract. As the years draws to a close we are still awaiting developments on this front. At present Lancaster City Council is covering the cost of the project - in effect providing an interest free loan.
The first panels have been produced and we are now on track for an opening in December 1997.
The continued support of three volunteers has been vital to the success of many projects. Cynthia Byrne and Betty MacDonald have continued to work on the uniform collection. They had completed the padding of the coat hangers and are now producing covers for the items. Although stored in wardrobes the cloth covers protect the uniforms from dirt and contact with each other. The museum has committed finances to this project and has received grant aid from the North West Museums Service for the materials acquired.
Norman Rowlinson has been a tremendous asset and his work output is of far greater value now that he has access to a computer. The computer - obtained second hand at a knock down price - allows his indexing work to avoid the paperwork stage and a need for typing by someone else. Over the year records relating to King’s Own soldiers in World War Two, and honours and awards for the First World War have been added to the computer.
The next great project is to create a computer listing of those King’s Own Soldiers who served and died in the First World War. Local newspapers, our own archives and Soldiers Died in the Great War are just three of the sources being used.
A very big thank you is extended to these three volunteers for all of their work.
The annual meeting of the trustees took place in November 1996.
During the year a total of 502 enquiries have been dealt with relating to the King’s Own, military history, and the local association.
Many of the enquiries are becoming more complex and it is sometimes difficult to allocate the time required. Often visitors have arrived expecting to research archives without appointment. This has often caused problems. The lack of a study area and pressure on time means that I can offer a better service to those who first make an appointment.
As the interest in family history continues to grow we get more and more enquiries directed to us from the Ministry of Defence, National Army Museum, Public Record Office as well as RHQ and other parts of the Army system.
Links with the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment Museum
I have had regular meetings with Stuart Eastwood, Curator of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment Museum, in Carlisle. The two museums have worked together in a number of areas. The Ministry of Defence have undertaken another study of Regimental and Corps Museums and we have provided a united front as the Regiment’s Museums.
Sadly the feedback from the Ministry of Defence has not been positive and the future of MOD funded museums does not look good.
The King’s Own Museum does not receive any MOD/Army funding and has no regular financial support from the Regiment.
Sponsored Cycle Ride
The major event of the year was the King’s Own Museum sponsored cycle ride to Paris, via the battlefields of France and Flanders, covering 600 miles. As well as raising over £6,500, the cycle ride raised the profile of the museum within the local community, museum world and regimental family.
The support of Securex Displays and Schott Glass as the main backers provided the project with the main funds to get underway. Peter Donnelly, King’s Own keeper was supported by three cycling friends, Andrew and Michael Barlow and Neil Slater in his ride. Back up support came from Paul Thompson and Graham Davis who travelled in the comfort of a van!
The ride started in Carlisle, but also enjoyed a civic send off from Lancaster on the following day. The 1st Battalion, at Catterick, hosted the riders on their second evening, before the ride to Hull for the ferry. Once on mainland Europe the route took the group through many sites of Regimental Battle honours of the First World War, but also to Namur, where the King’s Own gained its first battle honour - in 1695.
With the weather improving as the ride continued, the cyclists arrived in Paris, and teamed up with the support van and continued to the British Embassy, where Brigadier Charles Ritchie, Military Attache, hosted a small reception to mark the end of the ride.
The money raised will be used for a photographic computer system which will be used in the refurbished gallery.
The museum would like to express thanks to every who supported the event and made a contribution towards it. Special mention must be made to exceptional support from Securex, Schott Glass, Lancaster City Council, Pye Motors, Reebok, North Sea Ferries, King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, Stuart Eastwood, Paul Thompson, Graham Davis, Neil Slater, Andrew and Michael Barlow.
In November 1996 a special exhibition was opened in the museum covering the cycle ride which has met with a very favourable response.
© 2005 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum