Metal Crime Conference – You are invited to protect your roof & other property

Essex Police are pleased to host the joint Essex & Kent Heritage Watch Metal crime virtual “Teams “conference

09:30 – 13:30 Wednesday 14/10/2020

Presentations from: Ecclesiastical Insurance, Brook Security, Trace in Metal, SmartWater, Historic England, Kent & Essex Heritage Watches and Essex Police Crime Prevention.

For further information and the weblink to the conference using Microsoft “Teams” email:- with your name, organisation where applicable and email address (if different to that used in your reply)

*You do not need to have Teams installed on your IT, the link will open a webpage where you can join as a guest.

If you would like further information about Heritage Watch or wish to join, contact:

for Essex – Paul Harris

for Kent – Kelvin Wood

Spotlight on…Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome

This month we talked to Steve Morley at Stow Maries Great War Aerodome about their unique site – from original First World War hangars and an Officer’s mess, to owls and raptors and their hugely popular Wings and Wheels events.

Black and white image of a light aircraft with a man standing next to it

For people who haven’t visited Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, what’s it all about?

Stow Maries is the most intact, original, surviving WW1 Royal Flying Corps (RFC) operational aerodrome left in Europe. It was operational from 1916 until 1919 and was a key part of the London Air Defence Region, combatting raids by German Zeppelins, and both Gotha and Giant bombers across the South-East and London. This was the first Battle of Britain.

We have 22 surviving buildings that were built in 1917-19, including an original RFC Officers Mess which we believe is the only one in existence. The long-term aim of the Trust is to restore the whole site back to its heyday in 1918. This is very dependent on funding being found from various sources, with timescales to complete the work(s) linked to funding availability. 

There are currently four exhibitions at the site, plus two temporary hangars housing aircraft from this time of early aviation. It is still an active General Aviation airfield so visitors can see aircraft departing and arriving. It is 99% volunteer run, with a great enthusiastic team. We normally offer guided tours as part of the visitor experience, which receive excellent feedback, but this option is currently unavailable due to COVID restrictions. We do however have a Visit England ‘Good to go’ certificate which confirms that we open the site to visitors in the best way possible.

When the Royal Airforce (RAF) abandoned the site in 1919, it reverted back to a farm, owned by the Turner family. Mr Turner made use of the RAF buildings on-site, with several being turned into farmworkers accommodation. There is a whole aspect of social history associated with the site which we are just beginning to research with a view to forthcoming exhibitions being developed in the next five years.

We also have a vibrant wildlife population of owls, raptors, and other species, with a wildlife team able to give guided tours around parts of the site albeit this is not possible with current COVID restrictions.

Aerial image of Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome and the surrounding area

What makes Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome so special?

Being the only surviving, untouched aerodrome from WW1 makes Stow Maries unique, and a jewel in UK aviation history. Some of the earliest aviation developments took place here, certainly in respect of development of an early air defence network – the continuing development of which went onto become a major factor in the RAF being successful in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Visitors can experience the ambience of the site, buildings, and stories from the site told by our enthusiastic team. It has an incredibly strong ‘Spirit of Place’ that we strive to maintain at all times.

We are very much volunteer-driven and offer opportunities for people of all ages to become part of the award winning team that hosts members from  a multitude of backgrounds and skill-sets.

Can you tell us about an exciting project you are working on?

We are the development stage for an exhibition around early wireless technology used in aircraft. Our resident squadron (No 37 Home Defence Squadron) was the first home defence squadron to be equipped with wireless as part of the defence of London. We are working with ex Marconi employees to get some of this early equipment interpreted and on display from Spring 2021.

Alongside the above we have a rolling five year exhibition strategy, which will helps to maintain the installation of a new exhibition every year  – as we have for the past four years!

To compliment the curatorial aspects of the site we are developing relationships with other museums, including some of the major players in the aviation museum world. However, we would also like to develop partnerships with other regional museums not related to aviation in an effort to help each other out in what is now a challenging time for the industry.

What sort of events do you usually run?

We are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the period March – December, where all of our exhibitions are open. During the Spring/Summer/Autumn we hold three major events which include a flying display. Our signature event is Wings and Wheels which combines historic cars and aircraft. We also hold an event called Stow at War, which is one of the main Great War Living History events in  the UK with a multitude of historians and groups attending from across the country.

Our website and our social media presence has more details of these events.

What’s coming up?

After a challenging year for all museums we look forward in 2021 to attracting new and existing visitors by refreshing and adding to our offering. We are currently working on a schedule of events for the year, including Wings and Wheels, and Stow at War.  We are only too aware that the opportunities afforded to us in fundraising this year are unlikely to be repeated next year, so are working hard to link up with partners to reduce costs and push on towards financial sustainability. We are also very glad of the support of our Patrons and sponsors for all their help this year.

However we must also be cognisant of the challenges we face with COVID and ensure that whatever we plan takes into account the relevant guidelines of social distancing to ensure the safety of our volunteers and visitors alike. We want Stow Maries to be a great experience for heritage visitors, a curatorial example to others and most of all, a fun place to be in the #NewNormal!

For more information about Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, visit their website, follow them on Twitter, or catch them on YouTube.

New training added to SHARE calendar

New training sessions have been added to the SHARE Museums East training calendar.

Upcoming training:

  • 7 October, Remote Learning Programmes
  • 13 October, Purposeful social media
  • 16 October, Collections Care on a shoestring (limited free places for non-Accredited museums/heritage sites available)
  • 28 October, Managing Intellectual Property Rights with Spectrum 5.0
  • 10 November, Why your museum needs to love legacy fundraising
  • 10 December, Caring for Photographs

Please see the training calendar on the SHARE website to book.

Government announcement on further restrictions

  • From Monday 14 September, you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes. COVID-19 Secure venues (including museums) can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups.
  • Businesses will have a clear legal duty to support NHS Test and Trace. It will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days.

Further details can be found here:

A reminder that the guidance for museums published by the National Museum Directors Council can be found here, and will be updated in line with these changes as soon as possible.

Job vacancy: Archivist, Braintree District Museum Trust

Salary: £27,000 – £32,000

Job Type: Full Time

Contract Type: Permanent

Braintree District Museum Trust has an exciting opportunity to lead on the Braintree Digital Textile Heritage Project to improve access for commercial clients and researchers into the Warner Textile Archive, the largest public collection of a luxury textile manufacturer in the United Kingdom, with over 100,000 textiles and related items. The role will be responsible for the day-to-day care, interpretation and specialist access to the Archive Collection and to develop and implement a research framework to inform public programmes and interpretation.

For an informal discussion please contact Robert Rose, Museums Manager on; 01376 328868 ext.20 or 0797 099 3705.

Find out more and apply.

Free organisational health check opportunity

Would you be interested in undertaking a free organisational health check? Is your museum in the Accreditation scheme? If so, this could be an excellent opportunity to help you prioritise areas of development over the next 12 months.

It is a self-assessment, designed as an indicator to help you highlight your museum’s current best practice, understand where the museum has areas of development and to feed into your forward planning. It takes approximately 45 minutes – one hour to complete.

Information about the process, the benefits, and how I can help with it are below. Please let me know if you are interested and I will arrange individual chats with museums to talk through the process, and to set you up with the online survey, which I can do along with you. 

The benefits:

  • Once the check is completed, you receive a tailored report from SHARE Museums East detailing your developmental needs and priorities, so you can address this where possible
  • It provides an indicator for museums on overall organisational health
  • It enables museums to understand the areas they are doing well and also the areas of challenge
  • Funders are really looking for evidence organisations are taking their long-term sustainability seriously at the moment, and an organisational health check like this one is an excellent activity to have completed, and reference in any funding application. It shows you are taking responsibility and initiative to identify your strengths and weaknesses and are committed to taking action to address any areas of development.

Support available

  • It’s not a one-person task, it can be done as a group exercise by a board or management team, or between a group and a facilitator (me!) The latter option is preferable as it allows me to get a better insight into your organisation, and also adds a neutral perspective into the mix.
  • A YouTube webinar on the survey can be viewed here, to help you understand the process:

Please get in touch if you are interested!

National Trust teams up with Essex Cultural Diversity Project for community art projects

The National Trust and the Essex Cultural Diversity Project have teamed up to create two commissions focusing on NT properties; Bourne Mill in Colchester, and Paycocke’s House and Grange Barn in Coggeshall. They provide a unique opportunity to creatively explore NT properties and engage local communities.

After a call out for proposals in Autumn 2019, which attracted over 30 applications, two projects were selected. The projects started in January 2020 and were developing nicely with a variety of workshops on property and within the local communities, however the Covid-19 pandemic caused an abrupt halt to the workshops. The artists went online to allow participation from home. The artworks created will be incorporated into an installation for each property.

Bourne Narratives

Artists Nicola Burrell and Lisa Temple-Cox are creating a large felt installation exploring Bourne Mill and highlighting the beauty and ecological diversity of the site. It is a creative opportunity for participants to reflect and share memories and personal histories. On the Bourne Narratives Facebook page you can find self-led activities along with videos of workshops and the Mill.

Woven Sound, Knitted Community

The project revolves around the historical use of Grange Barn as a combined place of industry (wool) and community gathering, and the musical connection between Paycocke’s House and the composers Gustav & Imogen Holst. Composer Mike Roberts has been using accessible musical activity and creation as the focus – working with the local community to create patterns that can be captured both in wool (through knitted and woven patterns) and sound, to ‘compose’ a collection of rhythmic woollen pictures. There is an introductory video on Mike’s website with resources to allow participation at home.

The projects are funded by Arts Council England and the National Trust.

Article by Kerith Ririe, Property Operations Manager at Paycocke’s House & Gardens, Coggeshall Grange Barn and Bourne Mill.

Part 2: Trying to Transform Museums one step at a time

Trainees at their most recent training day

Last month we heard from Matthew Jones, Project Officer from the Transforming People to Transform Museum project about an initiative to widen opportunities for young people to embark on their museum careers.

Now we talk to five of our current cohort to learn more about their ventures into virtual guided tours, conservation cleaning, exhibition development and getting to grips with museum databases.

Alana Edgeworth, Community Engagement Trainee, National Horse Racing Museum

As someone who loved studying history at school, I knew that I wanted to have a career within the heritage sector. Upon leaving sixth form I had planned to attend university, however I realised that I did not feel ready to go. I had no idea how to get into the heritage sector without studying for a degree first so decided to do a bit of research and that was when I found the traineeship, where I could get a qualification whilst gaining experience of working in a museum.

The Covid-19 pandemic was the biggest and most unexpected challenge I faced during the traineeship. Working from home was something that I had never experienced before and had to adapt to. After a few weeks, I was able to find the right balance and completed some great projects during lockdown. This includes filming a virtual guided tour, designing a touring exhibition during a ‘remote’ work placement at the Suffolk Archives, and starting a volunteer newsletter. Although it is disappointing to have missed out on being at the museum, I have developed many skills whilst working from home, such as time management, trusting in my own ideas more and using Microsoft Teams!

Charlie Davies, Community Engagement Trainee, National Horse Racing Museum

After finishing my A-levels in 2017, I spent my summer volunteering in the galleries at Palace House, and as a conservation engager at Anglesey Abbey. The two roles were very different, but I found I enjoyed them both; gaining a small insight into the inner workings of a museum. The traineeship was brought to my attention whilst I was doing this volunteering and it seemed like a great way to continue to pursue something that I was really enjoying, and that could become a potential career path.

As cliché as it sounds, I’ve definitely become more confident over the past ten months. My first day was in one of the busiest weeks of the year in terms of school visits, and I was straight in to helping school groups find their way around the site. There wasn’t any time to be nervous, and I’m really glad that that first week was as full-on as it was. Coupled with everyone here being really friendly and welcoming, I immediately felt like part of the team.

The highlight of the programme so far for me was working on the John McCririck pop-up exhibition back in November. I’m particularly proud of that because we saw it through from the very beginning, from working with the curator and collections volunteers to sort through and log the items to researching how the outfits would have been put together and assembling the mannequins.

Sally Dix, Trainee, Museum of East Anglian Life

My interest in art, history, travel and museums is ultimately what led me to pursue a career in museums. Prior to applying to the traineeship, I was working as a primary school teacher but decided I wanted to have a career change and work in a sector that I was truly passionate about. I was initially going to do an MA in Museum Studies but then I heard about the ‘Skills for the Future program’.

I really enjoyed the challenge of organising a temporary exhibition that opened in January. All the art was made by one of our volunteers from discarded telecoms waste. I liked the level of responsibility that organising the exhibition gave me: curating the event; writing and releasing the press release; installing the event and organising the private view.

I have also enjoyed working with and learning more about collections as part of our ‘Search for The Stars’ digitisation project, where we are creating an online collection of objects. This has mainly involved working with volunteers and helping to photograph some of our c. 40,000 objects so that they can be added to our online collection.

During lockdown, I became even more involved in the project as we were able to recruit many more volunteers to help us add and check our online records and make them live. My role in the project involved interviewing volunteers, helping to train them, checking entries and adding research.

Alfie Stagg, Digital Collections Trainee, Ipswich Museum

The programme helped me by making me more comfortable in a work environment while being supported by the traineeship. Having only up to this point been in education through school and college it makes the transition between the two an easier experience. I have learnt how to conserve different objects which involves using different cleaning methods on different materials, for example, using Industrial Methylated Spirits to clean leather and learning how to handle the objects safely to ensure that they are not put a risk when they don’t need to be. I also have learnt how to use the Museum’s database system, Axiell which involves me creating new digital records for objects and adding objects to specific collections, for example, making sure the paintings go into the Art collection on the database.

I have really enjoyed the conservation work as you get to see objects that sometimes would not be on display and learning how to care for and preserve them. Learning how to handle objects and the chance to hold historical objects which is something you don’t normally get the opportunity to do. I have also enjoyed meeting up with the other trainees at their Museums and learning what their roles are and also getting background experience on their Museums giving you an insight of the workings of the different Museums.

Freya Didcott, Trainee, Long Shop Museum

After being out of college for over a year and having a normal café job, I wanted to pursue a possible career choice as I felt that I was starting to get stuck.

I have always enjoyed learning about history and going to museums growing up, so I thought it would be a good introduction to see if actually working within the heritage sector would be a good choice for me as a future career. I think the highlight of this programme is being shown the inner workings of how a museum is run.

Meeting all of the different staff, volunteers and trustees has really opened my eyes on how much there is to do and how important the work is, as well as how the heritage sector can bring in a diverse range of people into one working environment.

Particularly, I have enjoyed being able to meet and listen to the histories of our volunteers (as most of them are over 60) has been a great way for me to learn local history alongside the history that the museum I work in focuses on.

The Transforming People to Transform Museums Project @ Colchester and Ipswich Museums, Museum of East Anglia Life, Palace House – Newmarket and The Long Shop Museum is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.