In these days of budget cut backs and squeezed spending in the heritage sector, it is always nice to go to a good military museum. If that museum is free to walk around, has a fantastic temporary exhibition and is on your doorstep then all the better! I am very fortunate that a few miles from where I live is Bankfield Museum in Halifax, home of the Duke of Wellington’s Regimental Museum and currently hosting an award winning temporary exhibition on the Great War.
The Duke of Wellington’s museum has been here for many years, but has been refreshed and updated many times. It covers the history of the Regiment from its earliest days until it was absorbed into the Yorkshire Regiment in recent years. Display cases show uniforms, weapons, equipment and items related to Regimental history with a small number of tableaux to add to the mix. This is really well done with loads of information and lots to look at (Imperial War Museum take note- we want to actually look at objects not play with a touch screen!). Among the highlights are the Duke of Wellington’s boots (yes the original wellington boot) and a reconstructed WW1 dugout. From the Second World War onwards, you can pick up a little speaker and hear veterans stories from those who served with the regiment at the various battles.
The top floor is playing host to a wonderful exhibition on World War One, sadly this is only a temporary exhibit and will only be available to view until 2018. There is a good selection of objects, the M08 machine gun and pre-war Duke of Wellington’s uniforms being amongst my favourites, and a lot of information on how the war affected people in the local area. There is a research room and some fun dressing up clothes for the younger visitors, but the emphasis is very much on the objects and stories from the local area. Some of the uniforms in the main display case are reproduction, unavoidable with originals being over 100 years old now, but this doesn’t detract from the power of the display and the repro items are clearly flagged up to avoid confusion.
I cannot recommend these exhibitions too highly, with the current squeeze on culture these sort of initiatives need all the support they can get so please go along and enjoy the museum if you possibly can- the more we use these facilities the less likely they are to be closed down. As an aside if you are also a fan of the Old West, there is a second temporary exhibition on this open until about April.
For more information about visiting please look here.