On Monday 23rd of June – Plassey Day – His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester visited Winchester to raise the City’s Armed Forces Day Flag and launch the event in the city. As Royal Colonel of 6 RIFLES, one of our Army Reserve Battalions, he also took the opportunity to visit Regimental Headquarters The Rifles and The Rifles Museum (RGJ & Rifles) in Peninsular Barracks. After a brief tour around the RGJ collections, The Duke was introduced to The Rifles Collection Team, curators Miss Melanie Marsh, & Major (Retd) Rob Yuill, and Mr David Wiggins the collection volunteer archival assistant. He also met serving members of the Regiment; Cpl Avtar Gill (1 Rifles), LCpls Andrew Borthwick and Dan Owens (both 4 Rifles) who have been key supporters of The Rifles Exhibition giving up their time to do talks and donating items to the collection. After a quick tour round the gallery, His Royal Highness departed to the flag raising outside County Hall where the proceedings were accompanied by music from The Rifles Band & Bugles.
This week, it’s been reported in the news that most people heading back to work are suffering from “January Blues”, however for The Rifles Collection, this is far from the case. January is proving to be one of our busiest and most exciting months as we plan for the year ahead and what exhibitions, events and activities we will be running.
We were recently awarded a grant from the Army Heritage Branch to fund our exhibitions. Major Rob Yuill, our Exhibitions Curator, is designing a full programme out of this grant, with developments to the gallery in Winchester and a travelling exhibition planned. Much of this will be themed on 4 RIFLES’ recent tour of Afghanistan, so will illustrate a contemporary viewpoint of the military, which will be complemented by contemporary interpretation. (More to be revealed over the coming months!)
There is a new events programme proposed for 2014, with a variety of events and activities running throughout the year. We are delighted to be joining in with the Museums at Night, a national campaign in May, with a themed talk, ‘Chosen Men: The Rifles in Afghanistan’ with soldiers sharing their experiences. We will also be joining in with Armed Forces Day and Heritage Open Days, as well as a few child-friendly activities such as Halloween – who could imagine a more spooky setting than Peninsula Barracks, previously a Norman fort and Medieval castle, and a key to the history of Winchester?
So 2014 promises to be a busy and innovative year for us at The Rifles Collection! Using this blog we will keep you updated on our behind-the-scenes work. Stay posted for the latest updates covering news on our exhibitions, recent acquisitions to the collection, historical articles on moments in The Rifles’ history, guest posts from our Regimental Historian, Dr. Huw Davies and others and much, much more as this exciting year continues.
Recently in September, The Rifles Collection took part in Heritage Open Day on Saturday 14 September. This year, Winchester Military Museums, as a whole, had the best figures since 2006, and there was a great atmosphere on the site. This was particularly in no small part to the re-enactors we had based on the site, as you can see in the photo below.
The curators have also been out and about, visiting some of the other museums connected to The Rifles and to 4 RIFLES, who have recently returned from Afghanistan. It was really good to see Somerset Military Museum’s work and see their plans for ‘Somerset Remembers’, which is a project for the World War One Centenary across the whole of Somerset. We also really liked the new plans for The Keep Military Museum, who were recently awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to renovate their displays for World War One and were keen to demonstrate a strong link to the current regiment. We would also like to thank 4 RIFLES, who are planning to contribute to our ‘Stories’ project of their recent tour, particularly at this busy time.
We are also visiting 1 RIFLES in October to record some of the battalion for the ‘Stories’ project. 1 RIFLES are also busy at the moment, having recently deployed to Mali to help train African troops, but still kindly took the time to join in the project.
This year, we have also been flexing our social media credentials in The Rifles Collection and have launched on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. For Facebook, search for The Rifles Collection and on Twitter @TheRiflesCol and we are hoping to soon hit 1000 followers on each. Social Media is a great way for us to reach our audiences, especially since our core audience is scattered across the United Kingdom and we have a battalion in Germany, so we expect some interest from there too!
Keep checking this blog for more stories of the work of The Rifles Collection.