The Tank Museum

Early Beginnings

23rd February 2018

Original War Office to CuratorThe very start of the Tank Museum’s collection, records and indeed its modern existence as an independent museum, has recently been rediscovered during an audit of the Archive and Library.

This formative document (right) is small and unassuming. It takes the form of a typed memorandum from the War Office in Whitehall addressed to the Curator of the RAC Tank Museum. The memo gives ‘approval for the permanent retention of exhibits from Army stocks and ex-enemy origin’. 

The list attached (below) represent the museums original collection. Each tank, ordnance, weapon and object being transferred has its own page were information is recorded. These pages date between the late 1950s to early 1960s. They include details on previous ownership and, in some cases, vehicle numbers. These records show that the iconic German tank Tiger I and the British Black Prince have been a part of the collection since the very beginning.

Original Index (002)As you can see from the photograph these documents have been badly damaged by the nemesis of all Archives; Silverfish. Silverfish are nocturnal insects whose diet includes the sugars and starches commonly found in type and ink. These pests cause extensive damage to documents, book binding, paper prints and photographs. The destructive consequence of Silverfish activity can be seen on our Whitehall memorandum; the date is no longer legible. Such damage is unfortunately, irreversible.