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Bury St Edmunds-based Suffolk Regiment Museum hopes to keep all of its archives locally when town’s archives branch closes





A military museum is ‘battling’ to keep all of its archives in Bury St Edmunds as it prepares to reopen after a major revamp.

Volunteers at the Suffolk Regiment Museum at Gibraltar Barracks, in Newmarket Road, have been working tirelessly to refurbish the museum for a relaunch later this year.

They have spent months decorating, installing new lighting and reinterpreting its collection for a wider audience.

Claire Wallace, curator at Suffolk Regiment Museum, is hoping all of its records can be kept in Bury. Picture: Mark Westley
Claire Wallace, curator at Suffolk Regiment Museum, is hoping all of its records can be kept in Bury. Picture: Mark Westley

The museum is home to everything from uniforms to medals, weapons and artefacts charting the regiment’s history since 1685.

However, trustees have been worried after it was announced West Suffolk Archives branch, in Raingate Street, is to close, due to cost-cutting by Suffolk County Council.

The majority of the museum’s documents are stored at the branch and may have to move to The Hold, in Ipswich.

Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

Claire Wallace, curator of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Regiments Museum, said: “Our collections contains more than 10,000 objects in total, including documents. The majority of these documents are on loan to West Suffolk Archives; around seven years’ worth at the museum – and some on loan to Cambridge Records office.

“We are very much hoping we can bring all of the Suffolk archives together and keep them in Bury.

“It just makes sense to have everything in one place; rather than people visit us and then have to travel to Ipswich to find out more.”

Suffolk Regiment Museum was established in 1935. It was founded for veterans but as deposits grew it was opened to the public.

Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

As part of the relaunch the collections have been reinterpreted with a focus on the personal stories of soldiers. The museum is also planning to expand its volunteer base when it reopens on August 4.

Talks are under way between the museum, West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council in a bid the keep the archives in town. The Regiment Museum is a tenant of the MoD but has no current scope to expand its site.

It is hoping space can be found at nearby West Suffolk House, which is also West Suffolk Council headquarters, in Western Way.

Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

Cllr Cliff Waterman, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “West Suffolk House is jointly owned by West Suffolk and the county council and decisions on its use are for both councils.

Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

“From our perspective, if the regiment could meet the full costs of adapting space to house their records in the building, a tenancy for them could certainly be considered.”

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said: “We are working with West Suffolk to explore the options.”