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Case study: Tamworth Castle - Consolidating museum collections

Museum

Tamworth Castle is the heritage attraction located in Tamworth, twenty miles west of Birmingham. Six wealthy and influential families have owned the castle over the centuries. The museum displays historical artefacts and relied on three local stores to store unneeded items.

Tamworth Castle took the decision to consolidate the storage of its historical artefacts to improve security for irreplaceable items, improve the storage environment and create easier access to items in store.

Tamworth Castle appointed Pickfords Business Solutions to move over two thirds of its reserve collections, stored in three very different buildings, to a single storage unit, with a partial mezzanine floor.

The job required:

  • Detailed planning, incorporating the client, third parties and Pickfords.
  • Delicate handling and care of irreplaceable, large and heavy objects.
  • The development and execution of a sequenced relocation plan to overcome access issues.
  • Keeping distruption to Museum staff and visitors to an absolute minimum.

Logistical planning

The move involved a significant amount of logistical planning to produce a tailored move plan. Pickfords analysed the project to produce a comprehensive plan that reflected the Museum's requirements, move complexity and handling techniques associated with the collection.

The objective of the move was to relocate a host of collections from three different buildings, each of which had access issues, and install them in a more appropriate storage unit. In a total of eight days spread over one month, Pickfords' Project Manager and Move Manager, together with the move teams, worked with Tamworth Castle's Collections Officer and two volunteers, to move over two thirds of the reserve collections. These included:

  • Heavy terracotta stone items
  • Large domestic items such as mangles,fire grates and surrounds
  • Furniture and display cabinets
  • Smaller boxed domestic items, boxed glass and ceramic exhibits
  • Fine art with some large framed oil paintings
  • Costume and textiles displays, both boxed and on rails

Unusual items included two funeral biers and a canon.

Sunday morning clearance

The first property to be vacated had to be cleared over two very early Sunday mornings. The second property was tucked away in the far corner of a Pay and Display car park, again causing severe access restrictions for large commercial vehicles.

The collections in both stores featured some particularly large and heavy items, and getting those transferred on the quietest days of the week, and into the new store first, was vitally important.  

Specialised racking and placement

The new storage unit had been racked by Metalrax storage. Many of the heavy yet delicate items had to be placed on to various levels, and a forklift truck was utilised to ensure safe yet careful handling and precise placement.

Metalrax Storage redeployed its team to install the last of the new shelving to accommodate the smaller collections.

Final stage

The final stage of the move was a marathon three successive days, moving the majority of the collections out of the final site. These were transferred utilising a series of roll cages that were recycled throughout the move. Padding, providing a safe and stable means of transfer from one site to another.

Colour coded move plan

All boxed items had been numbered and colour coded according to collection type, and these were all relocated by cross matching to colour-coded areas within the new storage facility. The boxes were all shelved back in number sequence.

Essential planning and preparation resulted in a smooth and seamless move that required the minimum of museum staff, and meant that the move team knew exactly what to expect at each stage.

Client feedback

"I was very impressed, particularly with the precision shown when moving the heavy terracotta items, the forklift driver was excellent. Ken the move manager was outstanding, his patience and that of the forklift driver in shuffling pallets onto the pallet racking was exceptional. The patience of the rest of the team with putting things where I wanted them to go, was also much appreciated."

Sarah Williams, Collections Officer at Tamworth Castle

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