Royal Engineers Museum tells the story of the Corps today and yesterday

By Culture24 Staff | 13 September 2011
A black and white photo of a man in profile
The medals of Sir Richard Fletcher, Chief Engineer in the Peninsula Wars (1808 to 1813) as they were seen on the Antiques Roadshow.© Royal Engineers Museum
New Galleries: The Corps Today (opens September 17 2011); Early Engineers Gallery: From Roman Rochester to the Battle of Waterloo (opens October 1), Royal Engineers Museum, Library and Archive, Chatham.

The Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham is about to unveil two new galleries that together tell the proud story of both the beginnings of the Corps and its continuing role in the Army of today.

The Corps Today Gallery, which was entirely fundraised by the museum itself, covers the last 15 years of the work of the Royal Engineers, including ongoing service in Afghanistan and Iraq, their work here in Britain as well as humanitarian work abroad.

A British soldier with rifle in the firing position next to a bulldozer
Sappers - Soldiers and Engineers
© Royal Engineers Museum
Featuring a wealth of images, objects and equipment a highlight includes a mock-up of Camp Bastion, which then-Prime Minister Tony Balir described as a place where “security in the early 21st century is going to be played out” during an address to service personnel in 2006.

The interactive model is brought to life with video, maps and images.

A £46,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant has also helped create the Early Engineers Gallery, which tells a story running from Rochester’s Roman beginnings to the famous Battle of Waterloo.Key items on display include the Duke of Wellington’s map actually used at the Battle, as well as teeth that were collected as gruesome relics from the battlefield.

The strong Corps connection to the Napoleonic Wars is also highlighted by the medals of Sir Richard Fletcher, Chief Engineer in the Peninsula Wars (1808 to 1813), including the highly coveted Peninsula Gold Cross, which will be put on display for the first time. Visitors can also see the oldest Royal Engineer Peninsular War Uniform.

Highly detailed models include castles and fortifications from the surrounding county which can be studied next to key objects from the birth of the Corps - salvaged from the Siege of Gibraltar in the 18th century.

The physical and social impact of the military on Kent are also an important part of the displays. Locals have also contributed to the project via a Memories of Medway oral history project - at a site where the historic Brompton Barracks still provide a key training ground for the Royal Engineers - 200 years after they were built.

More objects and photographs featured inside the new galleries:

A black and white photo of a man in profile
Images of Saddam Hussein were brough back from Iraq by serving Royal Engineers
© Royal Engineers Museum
A photo of a large model of a fort inside a museum
Models on show include castles and moats from the region
© Royal Engineers Museum
a photo of a military red uniform in a display case
A Napoleonic Sapper Uniform (the oldest in the collection).© Royal Engineers Museum
A photo of an old helmet inside a museum with brick walls
A 17th century siege helmet
© Royal Engineers Museum
A photo of soldiers poised during combat on grassland
Visitors can see images of soldiers and engineers on duty in Afghanistan
© Royal Engineers Museum
A photo of a model of a castle inside a museum
A slightly smaller version of the imposing Rochester Castle is on display
© Royal Engineers Museum
A photo of an old map on brown paper
The new gallery hosts the Plan of the Entrenchment of His Majesty's Dock Yard and Ordnance Wharf at Chatham, from 1756© Royal Engineers Museum
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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