08/08/16

Waterbeach Museum reopens – in memory of Oliver Merrington

Waterbeach Museum was set up by the Royal Engineers in 1985 to commemorate the men and women who served at RAF Waterbeach Station from its opening in 1941 until the Barracks closed in 2013.

Prior to the closure of the Barracks, the Museum was taken over by a group of villagers, who established a Trust to secure the collection: Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum Trust. They packed up and safely stored all the photographs, documents, artefacts and memorabilia until a new venue could be found.

Following its appointment by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to take forward the development of the former Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield site, Urban&Civic has been working with the Trust to re-open the Museum in its former home by the entrance to the Barracks, which has been refurbished to include an exhibition area and community space for meetings and events.

During 2015, the Trust started to move the collection back to the site and from August the Museum opens its doors on the first Sunday and Wednesday of each month, and by appointment.

Adrian Wright, Chairman of the Museum Trustees said:

“The history of the Royal Air Force and Royal Engineers at Waterbeach, and their close links with the village, are very important and we welcome the opportunity to re-open the Museum in its former home. We now have the space and opportunity to further develop and open up the collection.”

The opening comes at a time with the Trustees are mourning the loss of honorary curator Oliver Merrington, who was a moving light behind saving the Museum when the Royal Engineers redeployed to Kinloss.

One of his conservation colleagues, Kate Brown, paid tribute to Oliver:

“Oliver, although seemingly quietly spoken and a ‘gentle giant’ was a true example of a dedicated museum volunteer and then Museum Curator – committed and passionate about his museum. He could speak movingly and knowledgeably about the stories the museum held. He achieved much to ensure the site (the Barracks) and its place in history was acknowledged.”

Waterbeach owes a great debt to Oliver. The WMHM Trustees and Urban&Civic offer their deepest condolences to his family and partner.

Opening times : The Museum is open from 11am to 4pm on the first Wednesday and Sunday of each month and for events and by appointment with Adrian Wright (01223 861846). If you are interested in military history and how Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield has evolved, and would like to support this community venture, the Museum is looking for new volunteers.

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