The Tank Museum – Vehicle Conservation Centre Opening


Years of planning and hard work was celebrated yesterday as The Tank Museum’s new, Heritage Lottery funded, conservation centre was officially opened.

Historian and Museum Trustee Dan Snow, actor Chris Barrie and Dorset’s Lord Lieutenant Mrs. Anthony Pitt-Rivers, were all present as the new hall was opened.

Dan Snow said, “Yet again the Tank Museum has produced an absolutely world class facility. The new vehicle space gives them a chance to display even more of the collection. Being able to stand on that mezzanine level and look down on the packed ranks of tanks is a thrill. The Tank Museum is fantastic, and the best thing is that it’s still growing.”

Left: (l to r) Richard Smith, Dan Snow, Peter Gilchrist, Doug Hulyer, Mike Hayton, Darren Parson, & Chris Barrie.

The contribution of the workshop volunteers was the focus, with examples of their conservation work on display for invited guests. One of the Museum’s most dedicated volunteers, Darren Parsons from Southampton, co-opened the Vehicle Conservation Centre with HLF representative Doug Hulyer.

Mr Parsons, an engineer for Exxon Mobile said; “Volunteering has allowed me to both learn and share my knowledge with other volunteers. We all have a different range of skills and abilities but we all find it rewarding to make an important contribution to keeping this heritage alive for visitors to enjoy.”

The 40,000 sq. ft. Vehicle Conservation Centre, which will house over 100 armoured fighting vehicles, was built with the assistance of a £2.5m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant. The new hall, includes a public observation gallery and `Conservation in Action` exhibition, and will contain vehicles which have never been on public display before.

Museum Director, Richard Smith said; “The Vehicle Conservation Centre will provide us with much needed space; enabling us to add new exhibitions, and ensuring that our collection is stored in a dry and properly heated environment. This new centre also gives us the facilities for an on-going volunteer led conservation and preservation programme, further guaranteeing the long term future of our collection.”

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “The Tank Museum holds one of the, if not the finest collection of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles in the world. We are thrilled that this project is now open to the public and will provide new facilities to help conserve vehicles, whilst transforming the way visitors interact with The Tank Museum’s impressive collection.

“This is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and learn about these complex machines and is bound to increase the number of visitors to this ever popular museum. In the run-up to the Centenary of the First World War, where tanks played a historic role in the conflict, this project is opening just in time for commemorations in 2014.”

Visitors will have a chance to walk around the floor of the Conservation Centre for the first time ever at Saturday’s Britain at War Show.

Source: The Tank Museum

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