Firepower – The Royal Artillery Museum
|Firepower - The Royal Artillery Museum|
|Established||4 May 1820|
|Location||Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, South East London|
|Public transit access||Woolwich Arsenal|
Although the museum was set up to preserve Royal Artillery (RA) history, it is in fact much more than a regimental museum as the RA has been involved in most British actions for over 200 years. Over two million men and women have served in the RA since its formation and human stories of bravery and sacrifice are told throughout the museum.
The museum is located in some of the former buildings of the Royal Arsenal, which was Britain's principal ordnance manufacturing facility from the early 18th century until the mid-20th century. Since the turn of the millennium the Royal Arsenal site has been undergoing a mixed-use redevelopment, and Firepower is one of the anchor features of this project.
The forerunner of Firepower was the Royal Military Repository, which was established on the Royal Arsenal site in May 1778. After a fire in 1802 the surviving artefacts were rehoused in the Old Royal Military Academy. In 1820 the main collection was moved to the Rotunda on Woolwich Common. The collection moved to Firepower in April 2001. All of Firepower's buildings were once part of the Royal Laboratory Department, which controlled the manufacture of ammunition. The Old Military Academy and some of the other buildings used by Firepower are grade II listed. The adjacent Greenwich Heritage Centre tells the story of the local people of Greenwich who worked in the Arsenal and made the guns.
Collection and displays
As so many people have served in the Royal Artillery, the museum's archive of 'Gunner' records are much in demand with genealogists and family-history researchers. The archive's experts have produced a handy guide for Royal Artillery family-tree researchers called "Is there a Gunner in your family tree?" which explains step by step just how to find out about Gunner ancestors and relatives.
Firepower has large collections of historic and modern weapons. It is composed of the following sections:
- Breech Cinema: Shows an introductory film.
- Field of Fire: An interactive exhibit with sound, smoke, screens and vibrations designed to give visitors an idea of what it is like to be a modern gunner in war time.
- The Gunnery Hall: The museum's main display of 20th century weapons.
- The History Gallery: This covers the history of artillery from slings and arrows onwards.
- Medals Gallery: Displays a selection from the museum's collection of thousands of medals won by members of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, and tells some of the stories behind them.
- Real Weapon Gallery: An interactive exhibition about ammunition.
Following an internal strategic review of the museum's future, in May 2014 a conditional agreement between the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Firepower was announced Statement by Chairman of The Royal Artillery Museum. This will transfer ownership of Firepower's property leases to the Royal Borough and create a permanent Royal Artillery exhibition in a combined heritage centre in the Royal Arsenal. This exhibition will show the Regiment’s history in the context of the Royal Arsenal and retain a close and enduring bond to the Regiment’s birthplace. The creation of the heritage centre in the Royal Arsenal will be complete by late 2016 with the museum remaining open throughout the intervening period whilst the exhibition is created.
During this transition period the museum's board with the support of the Royal Artillery will be developing a future site for the long term operation of the Royal Artillery museum. This will be a world class attraction that will provide the greatest possible public access to the history and heritage of artillery and the story of the courage and service of the men and women of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
Gallery of exhibits
Other Artillery museums
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