This Day In History

1826 Bhurtpore, India. After a 3-week siege, the Grenadier Company of the 59th Foot (later 2nd East Lancashires) leads the rest of the Regiment into and up the breach in the massive city walls caused by exploding a mine under them. After many hours of hand-to-hand fighting on the ramparts and in the streets, the city falls.
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To mark the centenary of World War I, the Lancashire Infantry Museum is undertaking its  biggest project in decades. Thanks to most generous grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund, our main gallery, the Somme Room, is undergoing a £150,000 complete re-design and make-over.

The Museum applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund through their programme ’Our Heritage’. The programme funds applications from not-for-profit organisations, private owners of heritage (including individuals and for-profit organisations) and partnerships. Applications can be made for the sum of £10,000 to £100,000, and the Museum successfully received the full amount applied for of £95,000. The Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund has also awarded the project its largest-ever grant of £15,000. The balance of the £150,000 cost has been raised by the Museum itself.

The original East Lancashire, South Lancashire, and Loyal North Lancashire regimental museums, on which the Lancashire Infantry Museum is based, were founded in the years after the World War I to commemorate the lives of those who served during the conflict. With the commemoration of the centenary fast approaching, and in response to the growing public interest, the Museum Trustees sought the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund to redevelop the Somme Room to provide  a fitting tribute which would allow us to place far more of our massive collection on display than has ever previously been possible. The re-display will commemorate the achievements and sacrifice of the thousands of Lancashire soldiers who served in the two World Wars and the many other conflicts of the 20th Century.

The new display will better engage visitors with our rich collection of objects, photographs and film  – many of which will be on display for the first time – through new graphic panels, touch-screen computers, digital photographic displays, audio points and film screens.

The majority of the work is taking place between January and April 2014. The Somme Room will be closed to the public, however, we aim to keep access open for the Waterloo Room, Medal Corridor, Council Chamber and Chapel. We aim to have an official opening of the completed project on 23rd August 2014, in time to commemorate the Battle of Mons in 1914, when Lancashire’s soldiers first went into action in World War I.

16th December to 20th December 2013

This week we started to sort through our reserve collection held in the Armoury Store Room.  We were looking for suitable objects to put on display in the Somme Room.  A team of dedicated volunteers came in to help with this mammoth project resulting in many objects being chosen for our volunteers to research after Christmas.

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January 2014

It was the biggest undertaking of the Somme Room project so far.  The week beginning the 6th January saw the volunteers receive training on how to pack objects carefully.  They then helped to pack over 600 objects that were on display in the Somme Room.  These objects are now being stored in the Education Room.

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Don’t worry though, the WW1 education sessions that have been so successful are continuing to take place in the Chapel.  Did you know that the Chapel also used to be the school room?S1web

The next job was to paint the room and remove the old cases.  What a difference!  Now the room is ready for the Joiners to come in and install the new display cases.

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February 2014

The new display cases are being installed by JNT Joinery.  The photographs show you the progress being made.  New LED lighting has also been installed which is perfect as not only does it make it easier for visitors to see the objects it also means that the valuable items we will have on display will not be damaged by the light.

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Our dedicated team of volunteers are also cataloguing and researching the objects that are going to be put on display.  They are also researching the soldiers who are associated with the objects.  This research will be available for visitors to see on our new touchscreen computers. 021web This month also saw the Preston Remembers Team visit the museum to receive training on how to research soldiers who served during WW1.  This was the first of many training days we will be holding throughout the year on this subject.  The new touchscreen computers in the Somme Room will enable us to have battalion histories available for visitors to read.  This will definitely help the family historians out there!

March 2014

This month we held two family days at the museum.  The first one on Saturday 1st March centred on the theme of the First World War with visitors taking part in drill practice and other activities.  The second day on Saturday 22nd March was Ancient Artillery day with families looking at Ballisters, Catapults and Trebuchets.  Look out for more fun packed family days throughout the year.

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We also welcomed the Malayan Veterans to the museum to help choose objects for display in the Somme Room.  They were able to identify objects for us, fill us in on many of the interesting stories associated with the objects and choose photographs for the text panels and photograph screens.  Look out for the objects when the Somme Room re-opens on the 23rd August 2014.


The museum would not be able to function without its dedicated team of volunteers.  Throughout the project we aim to train our volunteers in order for them to undertake specific tasks.  This month, Claire York trained the volunteers on how to clean objects without damaging them.  This will be necessary as we have over 1,000 objects to put out and every one of them needs to be cleaned ready to be displayed!

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April 2014

It has been yet another busy month at the museum. More cases have been installed, and the first text panels have been tested with their new light fittings. We think they look really good, and the extra light helps keep the whole room well lit as well.

Late on this month we finally saw the first of the touchscreen interactive computers arrive. The boys from Norwyn have done a fine job building stands for each of these, and the computers will contain a lot of information for the visitor.

As ever, our volunteers are beavering away at researching the last of the objects. With over 1,200 objects to research further, it has been a real challenge to the volunteers, but at least they can now go to militaria fairs with a great deal more knowledge!

May 2014

This month has been a bit difficult for our volunteers, as we now have started to select the key objects for display in the Somme Room. With so many excellent items to choose from, and with limits on space, it has been very challenging task! With that in mind, we’ve unfortunately had to postpone the launch of the Somme Room to 2nd September. This gives us just a few extra days to put the finishing touches to the room, and allows us to have a rather special guest who was unavailable on 23rd August 2014.

On the plus side, this month saw the first sets of shelves installed in the cases, just as the last of the cases was fitted. We think they look fantastic, and will provide plenty of space for the many objects we have. Also, following further discussion with the volunteers, back panels with pictures have started to be added to the cases. The Boer War case here looks amazing and really places the whole case well. It goes well with the new carpet, which has also been installed.

June 2014

Speaking of computers, the first interactive has now been tested and is looking very good. It will now go away to be completed. If only the installation of the dummies had been so easy! Owen and Frank worked very hard at getting our own ‘Stevie G’ properly dressed for inspection. (We think he looks like Steven Gerrard, do you?)

There were two key events this month, with the Museum Open Day on 21st June, and our attendance for Armed Forces Day on Preston Flag Market. Both were very well attended and we managed to attract a lot of interested parties in the new room.

Finally, the first of the photo screens was tested and installed this month. There will be over 2,500 photos on revolving displays throughout the Somme Room, which is an excellent way to showcase the Museum’s fantastic photographic archive.

July 2014

Another frantic month, especially with the current heatwave. Fortunately the volunteers have kept cooler heads than the staff, and work has continued. Several of the uniforms are now back out on display, whilst George Greenwood has worked his magic on the Drums that will form the eye-catcher display at the front of the Somme Room. They look fit for parade.

NADFAS have also been in and lent their expert skills on renovating some of the objects that have now been selected for display. Without them it would still look like a tarnished mess, so thank you ladies.

The final objects have been completely researched and now the fun really begins – placing the objects in the cases. Whilst it sounds easy, this has so far been quite difficult, as we are trying to create a natural flow to the story of the Lancashire Lad. Work is in progress, so we will report back on that soon.

Finally, the Museum Friends held a talk this month called ‘1914 – Lancashire Battalions from Mons to the Aisne’. It was an excellent event and very well attended.

August 2014

It’s the final countdown. With cases finished, objects chosen and photo screens installed and running, this month has all been about the finishing touches. The Roll of Honour touchscreen has been installed for instance. With the research now complete, our volunteers have each turned into mini-Shakespeares, as they turn military fact into the story of each object. This work will eventually also form the guide book for the museum, and will also be available on the touchscreen computers.

Frank has brought his DIY skills with him to help us set up the Family Friendly activities throughout the Somme Room. Without him, we would not have got the uniform area ready in time.

This month has also seen the beginning of developing new educational sessions for school groups based on the Second World War. This is an expansion of the massively successful First World War programme, but will take a slightly different approach. These will be tested soon and full rollout should be in early 2015.

September 2014

We are…OPEN! Big congratulations to all the volunteers, Trustees and staff in getting this project complete, and in record time. The opening was well supported, and the ‘mystery guest’ opened the Somme Room for us; none other than Bill Beaumont, rugby legend. His grandfather, Harry Beaumont, was a legend himself, earning an MC with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in Mesopotamia during World War I.

Lt Col Downham dedicated the Somme Room to the 20,000 men who were killed from the three regiments during the First World War. What the team has gone through in the last 18 months has all been about honouring these men.

The Museum also played its yearly role in the Heritage Open Day that went on across the UK. This was a great day for all and was a great success. Over 200 people visited.

October – December 2014

With the opening of the Somme Room, one might imagine that work on it has diminished. However, it has continued at a pace to make things even better. After initial customer feedback, several minor additions and changes were made, such as purchasing and installing stools at the interactive points.

Work has continued on the guide to the objects. Whilst we are confident of what is written, we are double checking all the facts, and adding as much biographical information as we can about who the soldiers to whom the objects belonged. Photos of these men are being searched for and will be added to the display.