The Big Move

30 September 2023

King Charles III’s coronation on Saturday 6 May 2023 was a big moment for the nation.

A few days later, was a big moment for Poole, and for Poole Museum, in particular.

Most display exhibits on each floor had already been packed and stacked, swathed and coddled in tissue paper balls and sausages. But those were not the stars of ‘The Big Move’.

Specialist removals contractors worked over two days, first readying the bulkiest items for removal, then loading them for transporting to a temporary storage facility.  Everyone’s nerves, and the contractors’ skills, were taxed on both days.  The contractors were professionally nonchalant throughout: “Been there, moved that, seen it all before.”  

It was the massive Swash channel wreck’s rudder mast and the log boat that everyone knew were going to be the bigger challenges, both in prep for removal and in loading.  A week or two before, York Archaeology conservator, Morgan Creed, had expertly checked the condition of the rudder mast and readied it for removal.  York Archaeology Trust  

Swash Channel Wreck - rudder restoration

To prepare the rudder mast, the contractors set up a cantilever A-frame to lower it to the floor, complete with pulleys and chains. Two teams, one working on the floor above, the other below, disconnected the almost two-storey high rudder mast from its strong metal girdles. (Steady, chaps.)

Last moves of the rudder decant

The teams working as one, seamlessly wrapping the lifting points in blankets, then in cling-film (yes, cling film!), in readiness for it being manoeuvred. On a hand signal, hand-over-hand, the clinking-clanking chains took up the slack, and the immensely heavy mast slowly lifted away from its plinth and was gently eased it down to the floor. A few signals, here and there, team members slipped a series of bogies under the now almost horizontal mast.

And rest, everyone! - Phew! That went well.

Removing the fragile thirty-foot log boat the same afternoon from its long, purpose-built glazed cabinet was more of a challenge.  The sliding glazed panels had to be dissembled first, the crew working out as they went along which panel to remove first.  Think of a giant (horizontal) game of TetrisTM, and you get the idea.   That was the easier part.  How to ‘thread’ the very long, heavy log boat around the wooden columns close by.  Now that was tricky.

Log boat second part ready for removal
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The Victorian fire engine, in pride of place for years in the Museum’s foyer, was the easiest large item to move, being a carriage and all.  “Easy, peasy,” said the contractors.  It took just a few minutes for the crew to push it out, then with a few more hands, to heft it up the waiting lorry’s loading ramp.  Off it went to its secret location.   

Fire engine ready for transportation.

As for the rudder mast and the log boat, a small team wheeled them out of the building, to the waiting lorry, ready for their move to their new temporary home.

A whole array of other items, from the Parkstone chemist shop and the historic dentist’s exhibition, were also wrapped, packed and moved off on the 10th. Phew!