REME museum set to close with relocation of the Arborfield Garrison

Published: 10 Feb 2014 12:300 comments

Arborfield Garrison is set to close by the end of 2015 bringing a century of history to a close.

Major Rick Henderson, director of the REME museum, with some of the larger artefacts

The site, off Eversley Road, is home to the Regimental Headquarters of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) as well as the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering and the School of Electrical and Aeronautical Engineering.

The garrison is relocating to RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, with the popular REME Museum – which is open to the public – moving there in November 2015.

The REME corps was formed in 1942, but the garrison has been on the site since 1904.

Starting life as a remount depot, it supplied horses, but closed down in 1937.

It soon reopened as the Army Technical School in 1939. Since then, it has undergone several name changes, and during its time seen thousands of young men and women pass through its gates, trained as apprentice soldier tradesmen.

Major Rick Henderson, director of REME Museum, will be overseeing the museum’s move.

He said: “This is something the Army is quite used to doing. We have large equipment like the 60- odd tonne recovery tank and a helicopter in our collection.”

Major Henderson, who retired from REME last year, said: “It’s exciting and a challenge, we will have a new museum and it’s a chance almost to start again with telling the story of REME.”

The museum’s collection features more than 100,000 artefacts, including from the Falklands War, Kosovo and Iraq. Oliver Parr, education officer for the REME museum, added: “We will be establishing our museum and starting from scratch. It’s a mixed blessing,

“We will be losing out on our base in the Wokingham area. We have lots of families who come here regularly.”

The Arborfield Garrison site has been earmarked for 3,500 homes, a secondary school and two primary schools, a food store, play areas and sport and health facilities.

The site is owned by two organisations, the Arborfield Garrison Landowners Consortium (AGLC), which owns just under 60% of the northern part, and the Marino Family Trust Company Ltd (MFT), which owns the southern part of the garrison.

A planning application by the AGLC to develop its part of the garrison site, including 2,000 homes, was withdrawn after Wokingham Borough Council said its transport assessment was inadequate.

The plans for the garrison are part of the council’s strategy to build 13,230 homes across the borough by 2026, with the garrison one of its key strategic development locations.

Cllr Keith Baker, executive member for planning and highways, said he expected that two planning applications to develop each part of the site would be decided by the council by the end of 2015.

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