Tank Museum Archive - research tips?

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by Chris C, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hi all,

    I'm wondering if anyone here has done research at the Tank Museum Archive & Library and has research tips to share?
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    I was there a few weeks ago. Brilliant place and exceptionally helpful people.

    Key facts/tips:
    1. You must let them know you wish to visit well in advance. If you don't, they may well not let you in.
    2. Be specific about your topics of interest so they can assess what files and photo albums etc you will need.
    3. Buy the camera permit and be flexible with your budget re photocopies etc
    4. Take your time when going through albums etc. You can always go back again!
    Aixman, CL1 and Chris C like this.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Thanks SDP!

    To be honest I was thinking of allocating 3 days there. That might be overkill, but: No, it's not that easy to just go back when it involves an overseas flight!

    I have thought about just paying for research time but I think I would like the experience.

    I didn't know about the camera permit so thank you. What did you mean about one's photocopy budget? Just, do pay for the material since you are there, instead of stinting?
    CL1 likes this.
  4. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Understood. Do your own research: far more satisfying than someone else doing it....and, yes, don't hold back on the photocopying provided it's focussed on exactly what you want. The cost of that compared to the cost of getting there and at least two overnight hotels is modest....depending on how broad your topics are! Speak/email Jonathan Holt at the TM to make your booking: brilliant helpful chap.
    Chris C and Aixman like this.
  5. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    If not already a member, being a Friend of the Tank Museum is a must (partially offsets archive costs in fact).

    Staff are exceptionally helpful and tremendously knowledgeable. Other than one Regimental that showered me with sarnies and drinks, Bovvy is probably the best (and slickest) archive I've been to.

    I did find lateral lines of enquiry are not always productive and can be time sinks, but I suspect this is more due to my own research methodology and set up of their archive than anything else.

    I should be there in the next month or two anyway on a research jaunt. Just penning this makes me itching to go again.
    SDP likes this.
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Haha I like the way you think, Swiper. I do want to get to Librsry and Archives Canada right now and am frustrated with work things shifting around which makes it difficult to take a day off.

    I suppose it couldn't hurt to sign up as a Friend now if it will reduce archive costs. Or at least I might persuade myself of that :)
    SDP likes this.
  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    I was there for just one day recently so needed to stay really really focussed. I gave each topic a priority : must do this time, could wait till next time. That sort of thing. The inevitable distractions - we are talking tanks after all - MUST be resisted....at all costs.....yes, easier said than done when you are in tanks paradise.....

    My priority was Comet tank T335335 aka 20ZR65. I knew which Regiments it had served in in Hong Kong so had a head start. But this meant Jonathan knew exactly what photo albums could be of interest and very quickly produced them....with others that could follow. My reward?....four, yes four, photos new to me of my dad's old tank. Took nearly the whole day but worth every minute. As I say, stay focussed and, if you don't find what you are after, chances are the TM don't have the information anyway.
  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Also I'm kicking myself. If I had joined Friends of the Tank Museum last May, perhaps, then when I went to TankFest that would have been beneficial I think... I'm not entirely sure if Friends get access to the "back" side of the arena where the tanks go past very close, but it would have been amazing to be able to sit there.
  9. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    P.S. SDP, that's amazing!
  10. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron


    What are your 'chosen topics' if I may ask? That could help decide what questions to ask the TM....in fact you can ask them questions before you get there because they also need to contemplate your visit so your questions don't come as a total surprise. It's also worth to note that there is (lots) of stuff they don't have because it either never existed or has been disposed (for example most individual vehicle records were disposed back in the 1960-70s as 'surplus to requirements'....from the Army point of view, why would you want to keep the Log Books of vehicles you no longer possess...they are not historians after all....).
  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher


    My "chosen topics" would be:

    1) The Archer. I know that there is an "Archer box" of stuff, and Jonathan has sent me a list of contents, But there are also some other postwar RAC photos of Archers which are not in the "Archer box" that I would like to find. (This should be obvious if you have seen my posts here!)

    2) I was only reminded of this recently when I was looking through older files, but if I had to pick another topic to research for after the Archer, it would be Operation Compass.

    And yeah, I know about things that have been lost. It seems that neither the RA archives nor the Tank Museum have the firing trial reports for SPs. (Archer, Tortoise, etc) They must have slipped through the cracks.
    SDP likes this.

Share This Page