The Royal Engineers Museum has officially opened its brand-new Pasley Research Centre, named after the first Commandant of the School, General Sir Charles William Pasley.
The military museum, based in Gillingham, is the largest of its kind in Kent and contains many exhibitions telling the story of Britain’s military engineers from the Roman period through to the modern Corps of Royal Engineers.
The new research centre brings together the museum’s library and archive under one roof on a new site adjacent to the museum itself. Its construction was first approved in 2017 and cost approximately £1.8million.
The Corps Library expanded out of Chatham and by 1863 had 16 branches in the UK and 19 overseas. These libraries were closed as Britain withdrew from its empire, with most of the books returning to England. With the opening of the new facility, the collection now has a new home.
Meanwhile, the archive, previously unknown to many researchers, will be much more publicly accessible.
The space was opened by historian Dan Snow on 23 September, with guests having the chance to tour the centre, including its temperature-controlled archive stores, and view archival material contained therein.
Snow commented: ‘Visiting the Royal Engineers Museum has been very enlightening to me, and it does what every good museum should do which is place the subject of that museum at the very heart of British and world history.’
He added: ‘It is projects like the one we’re here to celebrate opening today that are all about renewing, refreshing, and enabling all of us to access those materials, whether it’s the giant armoured vehicles or the yellowing photographs buried deep in the collection. That’s what’s so exciting, we’re not at the end of a journey, it sounds to me like we’re really at the beginning.’
The museum boasts many thousands of military history artefacts, including 48 Victoria Crosses, a German V-2 rocket, and a map used by Wellington during the Battle of Waterloo.