Regimental museums prepare for Ministry of Defence cuts

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 11.01.2016
Ministry to halve number of museums it funds by 2030
Fourteen regimental museums across the UK are preparing to lose their Ministry of Defence (MoD) funding in April this year, with some set to merge with other museums of the same regiment.

They are the first tranche of institutions to lose out under cost-saving plans by the MoD to limit its funding to one museum per British Army regiment.

The cuts will be rolled out in stages, with a further set of museums due to lose funding in 2022 and the final tranche set to have their funding cut in 2030. This will almost halve the number of regimental or corps museums that receive MoD funding, bringing the number down from 69 to 36.

The museums due to lose funding in April include the Museum of the King's Royal Hussars in Preston, Lancashire, which already faces an uncertain future as it is housed in the now-closed Museum of Lancashire, and the Royal Welsh Museum: Firing Line, Cardiff.

The 13th/18th Royal Hussars and the Light Dragoons Museum near Barnsley is to close and merge its collections with those of the regiment’s sister museum in Newcastle.
 
A spokeswoman from the MoD said the plans, which will eventually save around £520,000 a year, were necessary following government cuts to the ministry’s overall funding.

The museums in question will continue to receive other forms of MoD support, such as access to courses and training, said the spokeswoman.

“They can still apply for funds from charities, local authorities and other grant-giving bodies,” she added.

Military figures have warned that the double blow of MoD and local authority budget cuts could result in the loss of local military history, with one historian telling the Telegraph that cuts would be “detrimental in terms of local people understanding what the forces are doing for them”.

A statement from the MoD said: “We recognise the important contribution made by these museums in preserving military heritage and acting as the bridge between communities and the army.

“This is why, irrespective of funding, they will continue to receive support and have close ties with their associated regiment.”

Comments

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Jonathan Gammond
Access , Wrexham County Borough Museum
11.01.2017, 19:13
It is sad that a cut in funding is forcing these changes. However, sooner or later, someone was going to have to decide with an ever shrinking armed forces with fewer and fewer regiments, what are we going to do with all these regimental museums, especially those of regiments that don't exist any more, located on bases that have been sold off by the MoD.

Most regiments are part of a local community as well as having their own identity. Here in Wrexham, we are looking after the reserve collections of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum collection. Their museum in Caernarfon still exists, even if the regiment has been merged with other Welsh regiments, and is very popular. However, by placing their collection in the care of a local museum, it is the case already that the collection is being used in more ways than it would have been and will be seen and enjoyed by people who would never have visited a regimental museum. Fortunately, we have some former soldiers as volunteers and their knowledge helps us 'civvies' interpret the collection. Who can ever get their head around all the ranks, badges and battalions, unless they have actually been in the armed forces!! In return we provide some professional expertise and 'civilian scepticism'.

Of course, £520,000 is chicken feed for the MoD; they won't even notice the saving after the next frigate goes over budget.
12.01.2017, 20:06
So as funding is taken away Regiments have had to combine museums. So in theory the RWF museum in Caernarfon should close and combine with the Royal Welsh museum in Cardiff ? This all is big discrimination to local county infantry and cavalry regiments.
11.01.2017, 17:40
Rant time. Nothing really upsets me. Its a combination of being a nurse and the army. It gives you a perspective that things can always be much worse that what they are now. The closing of army museums however upsets me to the core. When a regiment disbands or amagamates it does not truly die because the regimental museum preserves that tradition. When you kill off the museum you kill part of that regiment. Those people we lamented this year in the Somme comemorations, they laid down their lives for friends and their regiment. Taking their museum away detracts from what they where trying to achive. The reputation of the regiment. The Shropshire Regt museum, blown up by the IRA. Thatcher had it rebuilt. The only decent thing she ever did, now potentialy closing. So id ask you to support these museums but its too late for some of them. This may mean nothing to you but its part of what makes this country what it is. These museums also maintain reccords of the men who faught for their Regts and our country. Those who know me will know im gutted cos i never got to see some of the museums that are closing.


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