MoD Cuts Funding To British Army Museums
Leading military figures have warned that parts of the UK are being cut off from their historical forces connections, as the Ministry of Defence reduces funding for Army regimental museums.
The MoD is reducing the number that it funds from 67 to 36 over the next 10 years.
A dozen of those are set to lose their funding by April this year as part of wider funding cuts.
The closures are part of a long-agreed government plan, and the MoD has said it will fund only one museum for each of the current British Army regiments. It said in a statement:
"We recognise the important contribution made by these museums in preserving military heritage and acting as the bridge between communities and the Army. This is why, irrespective of funding, they will continue to receive support and have close ties with their associated regiment."
Many of the museums are now joining together to share premises, in order to preserve their collections.
The 13th/18th Royal Hussars and the Light Dragoons Museum, which was based in Barnsley, has now already closed ahead of the cuts.
The collections are moving to Newcastle, where they will eventually form one Light Dragoons Museum together with the 15th/19th King's Royal Hussars, who are already based there.
It's hoped Heritage Lottery money may also boost the museums' funding.
See below for a full list of the regimental museums that will lose funding this year:
- Queen's Royal Irish Hussars Regimental Museum, Eastbourne
- Museum of The King's Royal Hussars, Preston
- 13/18 Royal Hussars and The Light Dragoons Museum, Barnsley
- Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen
- Surrey Infantry Museum, Surrey (pictured above)
- Royal Hampshire Regt Museum, Winchester
- The Fusiliers Museum of Northumberland, Alnwick
- Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum (Royal Warwickshire), Warwick
- Essex Regiment Museum, Chelmsford
- York and Lancaster Regt Museum, Rotherham
- Royal Welsh Museum - Firing Line, Cardiff
- Rifles - Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, Gloucester
- Mercian Regt Museum, Worcester
- Shropshire Regimental Museum, Shrewsbury
Fears have been expressed, meanwhile, over the potential impact of the cuts on recruitment.
Some think losing the historic roots in specific localities could prevent military recruitment, as that history and connection slips away.
Doug Beattie, a former Royal Irish Regiment officer, was quoted as saying in the Telegraph:
"We are losing our footprint around the country sadly and we are losing our roots in areas where we might have recruited quite heavily in the past."
Colonel Richard Kemp, meanwhile, said:
"I think it’s detrimental in terms of local people understanding what the forces are doing for them, but I think also to an extent it could impact recruiting."