Cardiff was the fifth choice to be the new home of the Museum of Military Medicine, its director has revealed.
In an article for this month’s British Medical Journal on military health, Jason Semmens explains how Lichfield, York, Southampton and Liverpool were the first options considered by the Museum currently based at Keogh Barracks in Aldershot.
And he says the Welsh capital was only considered after the Museum was approached by Cardiff Council.
“The impetus for the most recent re-evaluation of the Museum’s future direction was the removal of the Defence Medical Services Training Centre (DMSTC) from Keogh Barracks to Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, in 2013, rendering the longer-term prospects of Keogh Barracks and its continuing medical connexion open to doubt,” wrote Semmens.
“Initially the museum trustees sought to follow DMSTC and relocate to Lichfield, in what would have been a combined facility with the Staffordshire regimental and Yeomanry museums, and also explored sites in York, Southampton and Liverpool.
“An approach by Cardiff Council in summer 2015 encouraged the trustees to consider the city as a possible new venue for the museum, and they voted unanimously to pursue that option in January 2016.”
The Museum was initially set to be housed in the old Bute Street Railway Station but it later submitted plans for a new five-storey building on part of Britannia Park, which won planning permission in December despite more than 70 formal objections.
The Museum has made no secret of the fact Cardiff was not its first choice for relocation, but it was not previously known how many other cities had been considered.
“The site in Cardiff was chosen after earlier approaches to other cities around the United Kingdom came to nought,” states an article on the Museum’s official website.
Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas has said he “never met with them to ask” why they want to move to Cardiff, adding: “If I had to guess, I’d say it’s to do with our booming visitor numbers (pre-Covid). Plus maybe a potential link up with one of the finest Uni Medical departments in the UK? I don’t know.”
But a separate Museum document shows Cardiff Council proactively sought its relocation to the city, albeit before Thomas became leader.
A presentation made by the Museum direction says trustees made the decision to relocate to Cardiff “having visited the site and heard presentations by representatives of Cardiff City Council”.
The document also says the Museum will “act as a bridge between the military and the general public” despite Thomas saying reports it would be an “army museum” were part of “misinformation” about the project.
Nation.Cymru revealed on Friday how Cardiff Council will foot the bill for one of the most controversial aspects of the move – the removal and relocation of the grade-II listed Lock Keepers Cottage.
The Reclaim Cardiff campaign are calling on residents to write to Thomas in a bid to stop the Council selling the land to the Museum.