Armed Forces Day 2017 – RMB Chivenor

It’s always nice to get out of the office and take a little of what we do along to an event and last Friday and Saturday saw us do just that. We joined forces with the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon again this year and took a display to the Armed Forces Day exhibition. Last year we were at the event run by the North Devon Veteran’s Association at Pilton College. This year the event was held at a slightly bigger venue – RMB Chivenor!

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Armed Forces Day 2017

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Armed Forces Day 2017

The Marines opened up the airfield, once part of the RAF base which was in use until the mid-nineties, to exhibitors and the public in aid of Armed Forces Day on the 24th June. The event itself was held over two days with school children visiting on the Friday and families of the serving marines having a private viewing on the Saturday morning before the gates opened to the general public.

 

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Adam and Sam from the Museum showing some of the students a victory bell made from a piece of a WWII German aircraft

We were set up in a large marquee just off the main runway alongside the North Devon Veteran’s Association and other local organisations including Torrington Museum. We were just inside the marquee which meant we had a spectacular view over the airfield and Taw estuary towards Fremington – when it wasn’t shrouded in mist!

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View from the Marquee

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Part of the display we put together with the Museum

Since we were at Chivenor we decided to take items from our Chivenor Collections. The Museum took along several items from the Pat Knight Collection which was once housed at Chivenor when it was home to the RAF. These included several bits of crashed aircraft, a piece of shrapnel from a WWII German bomb which came down in the parish of Beaford, an RAF jacket and items from one of the many Air Days the RAF put on during their time at Chivenor.

 

We took along one of the seven RAF Chivenor Albums which chart the history of Chivenor as a base together with other items including copies of WWII crash reports and accounts of the night a German JU88 mistakenly landed there in 1941 thinking they were in occupied France.

Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the event was seeing the new search and rescue Coastguard helicopter which spent most of Saturday on the airfield – when it wasn’t called into action.

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We had a lovely few days meeting lots of people, many of whom had either served or are currently serving at Chivenor as well as seeing lots of families (many of whom had brought their dog along). But perhaps one of the best parts of the event was getting the opportunity to see the airfield and driving along the runways to get to and from the display area.

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You can find more about what we and the Museum got up to over the two days on our Facebook page and Twitter feeds.

For more information about our RAF Chivenor Collection and to read some of the stories and memories of Chivenor as an RAF base click on the Chivenor category or follow the links to the posts below;

The RAF Chivenor Collection

An Unusual Landing

Chivenor & the Torrey Canyon

Rescuing the Rescuers!

…Barum Athena

Beyond the Library…

Beyond the Library…

Not all of our collections are held on-site, when we first opened our doors back in 1888 we were not just a library. We were also a museum and archive for Barnstaple and the North Devon area.

The old NDA building now the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

Some of the items in our collections had been given to us when we were still the Literary and Scientific Institute (which was set up in 1845). There were many curious items from the local area and beyond.

When we came to move into the newly, purpose-built, library and record office 100 years later our museum items remained behind in our old building. The building had been sold to the district council who turned it into the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon and our museum items put on loan with them.

We also have collections on loan to Barnstaple Town Council in the Guildhall and our partner department, the North Devon Record Office which is now part of the South West Heritage Trust. The document collections on loan to the record office can be accessed within the public space we share with them during our opening hours.

Hawkins Grant of Arms

One of the documents on loan with the record office is the rather colourful Grant of Arms, issued to John Hawkins of Plymouth in 1565/66. It also includes a second grant dated 1571 for Hawkins’ capture of Rio de la Hacha [Riohacha, Colombia] from the Spanish in 1568.

Amongst the items on loan to the Town Council is the Prior’s Ring, which can be seen in the Guildhall. The ring was discovered in Pilton during the nineteenth century and given to the Athenaeum some years later. The ring has inscriptions in both Latin and Hebrew.

The Museum collections contain a wide variety of objects including the most recognisable paintings of Barnstaple done in the early to mid 18th Century. It’s also the painting we use on our website!

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There are more items in the stores at the museum than are able to be put on display which is one of the reasons they are currently fundraising to build an extension. To find out more about the museum and the Long-Bridge Wing Extension Project visit the Barnstaple & North Devon Museum Development Trust website.

We will be writing posts about some of the fascinating items you can find beyond the library walls in the future starting with the Oil Painting in the museum.

…Barum Athena