Visitors to Discovery Museum in Newcastle can immerse themselves in a new permanent exhibition which tells the 300 year story of The Light Dragoons and the Queen’s Own Yeomanry (Northumberland Hussars), when it opens on Saturday 21 October.
To celebrate the launch of Charge! The Story of England’s Northern Cavalry, families can enjoy a military-inspired programme of activities during October half term, including an indoor assault course, light armoured vehicles on the Plaza, object handling, craft sessions and radio building workshops. In addition, the Museum will be commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of Balaclava (25 October 1854), with Crimean War medicine from Florence Nightingale, modern facilities in a real army field hospital and a special film screening, talk and guided tour of Charge!
The gallery has been made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) who provided a grant of £422,600 towards the redevelopment and an associated programme of activities and events.
Charge! unites the collections of the antecedent regiments of The Light Dragoons and also tells the continuing story of the Northumberland Hussars since becoming the Command & Support squadron of the Queen’s Own Yeomanry. Both regiments, which are formally affiliated to each other, are the only cavalry divisions today which exclusively recruit from the North of England.
The new exhibition charts the pivotal moments in the colourful history of these regiments, from the capture of Napoleon’s carriage at the Battle of Waterloo (1815) to more recent reconnaissance missions in Bosnia (1993), Iraq (2004) and Afghanistan (2009), and honours the vital roles played by those born and bred in the north of England.
Visitors will experience the journey many soldiers would have taken, from recruitment and training to front-line duties, and discover original historic accounts based on material from the collection. Using objects and artefacts from the regimental collections, the displays will showcase a selection of military objects and historical artefacts, including a flag captured from the Battle of Waterloo (1815), a shako (helmet) worn at the Charge of the Light Brigade (1854) and a suitcase used for carrying maps at the D-Day landings (1944).
Discovery Museum’s ever popular full size war-horse sculpture will be displayed in full ceremonial uniform and other highlights include a film installation of mounted hussars thundering towards visitors with swords raised in a cloud of smoke, as though on a 19th century battlefield and a digital Drill Sergeant barking orders at any willing new recruits.
Carolyn Ball, Manager of Discovery Museum, said:
“We’re really proud to present the important history of England’s Northern Cavalry, and in a way which we feel is accessible to all ages and interest levels, from fun role-play activities and displays, to tackling some of the more emotive themes of combat, including a series of newly commissioned interviews about real life experiences and the huge impact on those affected.”
Major General David Rutherford-Jones CB, Colonel of the Regiment, The Light Dragoons, said:
“Light Dragoons and Northumberland Hussars everywhere are deeply proud of their heritage. For more than 300 years The Light Dragoons and its antecedents have played their part in the Nation’s defence and security; often at some cost to both soldiers and their families. We are very proud of our roots in the north of England; indeed there are many families in the North East and south Yorkshire whose own histories are steeped in the Regiment’s life. It seems right that the story of these fine regiments, and the stories of the officers and soldiers who made it all happen and of their families are recorded, protected and on display for all to see in perpetuity.”
“The success of this new museum gallery, ‘Charge’, is the result of unprecedented cooperation between The Light Dragoons, Queen’s Own Yeomanry (Northumberland Hussars), Tyne and Wear Museums, Newcastle City and of course The Discovery Museum staff. A hugely successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund resulted in a large Lottery grant which, quite literally, has underwritten this success; we cannot thank the HLF enough. And latterly very generous donations from many individuals, Trusts and Funds secured this success completely. Light Dragoons and northern Yeoman are deeply grateful to everyone involved. We are, England’s Northern Cavalry.”
Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said:
“From the capture of Napoleon’s carriage at the Battle of Waterloo to the D-Day landings, the Northern Cavalry has played a role in key moments in history. Thanks to National Lottery players we’ve been delighted to support this project, which will now ensure that incredible story can be shared and some fascinating unseen collections revealed. Congratulations to the staff, volunteers and supporters who have made this exhibition possible.”