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Much appreciated bequest to Museum

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Studying photographs is a part of the archiving : Museum Manager Neil Leckie, Bill Arkell Treasurer and Tom Chambers.

FOR a number of years the Ballarat Ranger Military Museum has been trying to find the funds for an expansion in the form of a second ‘Army Hut’.

This ‘dream’ will now become a reality due to a bequest from the Lillingston Trust.

At the cheque handover last Thursday Museum Manager Neil Leckie said, “We knew something was coming but the final figure was way beyond our expectations. We are very, very happy to be able to accept these funds.” The Museum collection has grown considerably over the last 10 years and a number of options for funding the building of a second hut have been looked at over the years.

“We need the room for two reasons: one is to spread it out but the second is to be to display it better and be more meaningful for people that come through,” Mr Leckie said.

“We would like to have the new building open by July 2019, which will be the 30th anniversary of the opening of the museum.” The hut will be named after the donor family. The 8th /7th Battalion, The Royal Victoria Regiment (8/7 RVR) ‘Unit Historical Collection’ began in the 1980s when members of the public began donating items of memorabilia and weapons to the then 2 RVR. The now renumbered 8/7 RVR, under the guidance of the Regular Army Quartermaster, Captain ‘Bill’ Akell, found that it had enough memorabilia to start up a display and two underutilized offices were turned into a small display room, or ‘museum’ in the barracks.

The room gained the name of the Ballarat Ranger Military Museum, with the word Ranger coming from Ranger Barracks, the home of the headquarters of 8/7 RVR, the name Ranger Barracks having been bestowed on the Ballarat Drill Hall in 1958 on the centenary of the raising of the Volunteers in Ballarat and the unit name being for many years ‘The Ballarat Volunteer Rangers’. When Ranger Barracks was sold in 2001 and the Army Reserve moved out, the ‘Ranger Museum’ was temporarily relocated into a room in a Ballarat City Council owned building in Sebastopol.

While the space in the room was adequate and the rental minuscule, the location being so far from the barracks, and in a little known side-street in Sebastopol, it was necessary to move the museum to a better, more secure, location.

This move was made when the new Ranger Barracks were opened in 2003 and a ‘P1’ Type Hut, believed to have come from the Ex WW2 RAAF Base at Ballarat Airport via the original Ranger Barracks, was made available to be moved to the new barracks to be used as an on-site museum.
The ‘Museum’ was officially opened in its new location at Ranger Barracks on the battalion’s 150th Birthday, 9th August 2008.

The current museum building was delivered as a tin shed with a roof, walls and a floor. With a lot of self-help, and some external support, the volunteers who make up the membership of the ‘Museum’ turned the hut into a fully insulated; plaster lined and electrically wired ‘Museum’ building.
Display cases of all shapes and sizes were obtained from various sources, or built with materials sourced for either nothing or at ‘cost price’.

As the current building is what the public call ‘an Army hut’, it is suggested that a second building of a similar description be built alongside the existing one to allow for expansion of the ‘museum’.