Seeing there was an exhibition of watercolours from a local artist on display there made Mr B pick the Aldershot Military Museum as our destination for this week’s Saturday afternoon mooch. To say it was an exhibition was a bit of stretch since there were only about ten pictures but it was lovely to see 19th century paintings from the local area that we are now going to investigate a bit more. The artist, W H Allen, wasn’t one we had heard of but it was interesting to see local beauty spots depicted in that way and was a nice start to our hour at the museum.
We live just a couple of miles from Aldershot and despite it being called “The Home of the British Army” we have never really been aware of what that means in real terms. A sobering sign states: “Aldershot for many that die in active service is the last town they got to call home”.
That stopped me in my tracks a bit and made me appreciate fully just what the history on our door step really means.
Inside the museum is set out in two parts, each on one side of a horseshoe shape. One is local history and the other, military history. Some of the exhibits are large ones, such as tanks and military vehicles, some as small as one of the 100,000 biscuit tins Queen Victoria sent out to troops one Christmas.
Local history of course has to include Samuel Cody who built the first biplane in 1908, just up the road in Farnborough, so there is a reconstruction of his workshop. I have lived in this area for over 20 years and I am ashamed to say I really had no idea.
Once you have looked round the inside (with a treasure hunt for younger guests) you can wander around the outside and read up on the various military vehicles. It is hard to not just stand and stare at them and wonder what stories you could tell you.
Talking of being oblivious to local fact, I didn’t know that Field Marshall Montgomery lived just down the road. And in fact a barn that stood in the grounds of his home has been relocated here to show off some of the military vehicles he collected.
The batallion headquarters from the now defunct Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Church Crookham has been restored and moved here too. Along with an example of what an office might have looked like back in the day. Pity the poor recruit who got summoned there to meet his boss.
It is easy to mock Aldershot for being a bit of a dump (sorry but the town centre is and has little going for it) but when you take a moment to think about just what the town means in terms of history, you start to see it in a whole new light.
If you want more info on the museum you can find it all by clicking here: Aldershot Military Museum
It’s a fab little museum, well thought out and less than a fiver for entry and you can even stop for a cuppa and a biscuit.