The History of the Museum
The present Museum building was purpose-built as the Regimental Headquarters and Museum of the Staffordshire Regiment. It lies adjacent to Whittington Barracks, which was opened as the Depot of the South Staffordshire and North Staffordshire Regiments in 1880.
In 1959, the South Staffordshire and North Staffordshire Regiments had amalgamated to form the Staffordshire Regiment. Prior to that date, both Regiments had had their own museums. The South occupied a handsome Georgian house in St. John’s St., Lichfield, known as Davidson House. The Museum of the North Staffords had begun life in the old Library building in Beacon St. and at some point had moved to a building in the Barracks. In 1963 the two Museum collections were brought together in the Barracks.
The present building dates from 1968/9 and was funded by the MOD who, at that time, had a commitment to creating purpose-built RHQ and museum buildings for all the newly amalgamated regiments. Ours was probably the only one ever built.
The Museum has been extended over the intervening years. A library/muniment room, known as the “Butler Room” after one of the Regiment’s great benefactors, Col. Eric Butler, was added later, as was a toilet block.
In 1999 the museum’s displays were refurbished and brought up to date, with plenty of “hands-on” exhibits for a wider, family audience. At the same time, a programme of temporary exhibitions was developed, allowing the use of the large reserve collection and featuring some of the Regiment’s finest actions, such as at Anzio and Arnhem.
In 2000, the museum’s now famous World War 1 replica trench was constructed outside in the grounds. This proved to be the starting point for our very successful Education programme where we focus on the experiences of the World War 1 and World War 2 soldier. The trench complex, too, provides a focal point for a wide range of events and activities, many involving uniformed re-enactors and full-scale battles. The education programme alone attracts around 5,000 schoolchildren each year and the Museum has doubled its visitor numbers since its refurbishment.
In 2007 Regimental Headquarters closed and moved to a new site 500 meters away on the formation of the Mercian Regiment. The Museum, which now incorporates items from the new Regiment, sits alongside the new home of military medicine and the Headquarters of the Defence Medical Services at Whittington Barracks. The Museum’s future seems secure but the unknown quantity of future defence plans means that the Museum must look even more closely to the long term.