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Back to it! NESM collections centre and historic vehicle collection.

It’s baby steps now as we return to ‘normal’. Picking up where we left off a year ago is not easy, especially given how abrupt lockdown was - putting the brakes on all restoration work on the museum’s vehicle collection.

As well as the issues caused by lockdown, we had to relocate our off-site collection to another location. This was down to our lease running out on one store and the fact we were trying to get everything inside and under cover. A break in lockdowns allowed us to relocate and bring the full collection under one roof as we vacated a 2,500 square foot unit into a 12,000 square foot unit.

Even though our team were slowly returning and putting a plan together to pick up where they left off, we still had to spend a long time unpacking (anyone who moves house knows that you never actually get around to emptying every box). As the team pulled together and set up a designated workshop area, work was able to begin again on keeping our fleet on the road and restoring the collection itself.

As we have made many changes to the main museum itself we used this opportunity to swap some vehicles around too. For example, our Austin K2 ATV has been on display in our Blitz exhibition for a few years now but as we have already invested time and funds restoring the engine, radiator, rewiring, etc, it was good time to get it back out and continue the renovation work we started before it was put on long term display.

We recently acquired the Rover works Bedford M, another ATV and trailer pump and Austin K4 TL from the Fire Service National Museum Trust collection. The ATV was solid but had a number of engine issues along with no breaks and a blown radiator, so the decision was made to give it a good rub down and repaint and exchange one ATV for the other in our Blitz exhibition. It’s great to be able to keep one on display while being able to put the other back on the road and over time rotate them again.

Work has begun on stripping our Oxford ATV and replacing much of the rear bodywork along with the rear of the Rover works Bedford M. Both are now driving nicely (and stopping!) so hopefully it will not be too long until these are out and about for everyone to enjoy.

Sticking with vehicle bodywork, our team have also taken the opportunity to deal with rust patches on the ex St Mary’s Airport Nubian MK10 while it’s not booked out for anything. We all know this but once you start poking a hole in rust... you might as well do it all.

We’re always looking for volunteers to care for and help restore and maintain our fleet so if you have any spare time once a week, once a month or even just for one off jobs, you’re more than welcome. If you’re not interested in road vehicles, don’t forget we have a 47 foot lifeboat on display!

Of course we’ve not been to many events but it’s been great to get back out to shows again and we cannot wait to see everyone again soon!

Our new off-site store is only a 15 minute drive from the main museum on West Bar in Sheffield and will hopefully become our ‘collections centre’ and, in addition to the museum, also open to the public. A little like the London Transport Museum and the Depot.

We’re housed in a beautiful building and even though it causes us some major issues with its age and layout - and the fact it was built for horse-drawn vehicles and not large motor vehicles, never mind the boat! - we would never wish to leave. But by having our ‘collections centre’ everything will be accessible for research, restoration or just to have a good look at the collection itself.

I'll be sharing more with you about life at the museum in this blog and you can find news on our website and through our social media too.

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