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The Relocation of Britain at War

Museum Name

St Margaret’s Bay Museum, Kent (governed by the Bay Trust)

Museum Contact

Anne Edwards, Curator

Title of Project

The Relocation of Britain at War


January 2013

What was the Project aim/s?

The Winston Churchill, Britain at War Museum, Toolley Street, London Bridge closed on 6th January 2013 and Railtrack is currently redeveloping the site. St Margaret’s Bay Museum agreed to acquire the collections and to move it from London to Kent.

What was the impact of the project?

This project included support in volunteer recruitment, training, purchase of relevant equipment, onsite cataloguing, labelling and photography.  The work is all part of the museum’s overarching vision to tell the story of how we can work towards an ethical and environmentally sustainable future, using the history of the ‘make do and mend’ and ‘dig for victory’ WW2 ethos. The project also supported the museum to embark on a collections review and to implement good practice in their current collections management procedures.

St Margaret’s Museum rescued the collection, the majority of which was original World War 2 material, from potential destruction.  A simple catalogue of the items was created in line with SPECTRUM standards, as well has correctly storing the collection in acid free tissue and boxes.  The Museum recruited 8 new volunteers to help with this project; a mixture of students (undergrad and post-grad) and members of the local Historical Society.  Training was given object handing, packing, identifying condition needs and cataloguing.  This has not only given valuable training to the volunteers in collections management, but has meant that the collection is correctly cared for and managed right from the start.  This will set out good practices that can be adopted in other areas of the existing collection.

What went well and what didn’t go well?

The group training before the move was a great opportunity for volunteers to get to know each other and practice what they were going to be doing on the day.  It allowed them to understand the various labelling, cataloguing and packaging processes and help them formulate the best approach to carry out the task taking into consideration the time constraints and the small space they would be working in.

Timing was always going to be tricky as the St Margaret’s team had only 3 days to carry out the collection move before the internal display cases and structures were dismantled.

Top Tips

  • Train all volunteers before hand
  • Practice the approach and work out the teams
  • Purchase and prepare all equipment
  • Timetable in plenty of breaks as it can be tiring and repetitive

What are your plans for the future?

A recent exhibition ‘Hellfire Corner, St Margaret’s at War’ was a great success and the opportunity to continue and expand on this exhibition through this acquisition of the Britain at War collections is very timely.  The Bay Trust’s objectives of sustainable living are being developed through the exploration of the WWII's dig for victory and recycling of food waste ethos.  This project is part of laying the foundations to move to the next step in directing the focus of the museum.

Overall Cost of Project