HUNDREDS of people visited the School of Artillery last weekend to join in Artilleryfest, a display by the Royal Artillery Museum of some of their collection and to watch demonstrations.

In wonderful sunshine the crowds watched demonstrations by the Garrison Artillery Volunteers, firing First and Second World War 18 pounder guns, were entertained by the Shrewton Silver Band and a piper and drummer from 19 Regiment, The Scottish Gunners.

Museum secretary Jeff Smith gave a talk about future plans for the museum and there were exhibits from the collection and modern artillery pieces on display for the visitors to examine. The Boscombe Down Aviation Collection also came with a display of some of their artefacts that were relevant to Larkhill

Since the closure of the original museum at Woolwich, the contents of the museum have been divided between three locations, most of the large items are stored at Wharton, the Science Museum’s base for reserve collections, most of the archives are at Upper Heyford in specialist storage and some of the smaller items are at Larkhill and some of our archives are in the main headquarters building

The museum has set up a small display in two garages of a lot of the smaller items both guns, memorabilia, medals and history of the regiment plus dioramas of a few particular actions picked out. All of this has been created and entirely lead by Jeff Smith and the remaining five museum staff. One of the original purposes of the museum was as a training aid for the technical and deployment training of artillery and this has now restarted with the museum putting on displays for the young officer courses that pass through the Royal School of Artillery.

Chairman of the Royal Artillery Museum, Major General Nick Eeles explained how things were progressing: “We are at a reasonably advanced stage of planning a new museum on Salisbury Plain not just a museum but a major visitor attraction and we hope to site it close to the regimental home Larkhill ideally, on a patch of ground owned by the MOD near Netheravon and we are in negotiations with the army for that piece of land at the moment.”

“We have a phased program that we have designed and developed which we hope to take forward in partnership with a number of stakeholders who we hope will offer funding assistance central to that clearly is the Royal Regiment of Artillery family itself but also we have strong support from Wiltshire council and we recently heard that we have been provisionally been allocated just over £1 million by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership towards the first phase of the project.”

“Today’s event has been very successful the weather has supported us today the numbers that we’ve got our greater than we had anticipated. This is still a trial event to see how people take it but there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for it and clearly if and when we have museum will be doing much bigger events like this but at least it gives a trial and a taster for the sort of activities we can deliver.”