In early 2015 (yes, that long ago), the Friends discussed the idea of a project with the staff of the RNSM to upgrade the JFB to make it a more exciting and stimulating place for visitors. The project was inspired in part by a proposal put forward by JJ Molloy in 2014 that included moving a number of weapons from the contaminated Weapons Gallery into the JFB. The Friends subsequently injected £25K into signage and “sign-posting” to better lead the visitor through the museum, and further proposed that weapons be included in a later project that would see them mounted in the JFB. The time it has taken to bring this second project to fruition has clouded the collective memory of its origins, which were an internal proposal by JJ, who now works for the NMRN. The Friends owe JJ a vote of thanks for his original initiative.
And here we are at the close of 2018 and there is, at long last, something to boast about! There are many reasons for the length of time it has taken, including assessments of the structural strength of the JFB floor and roofing, but Nick Hewitt of the NMRN has shown tenacity, initiative and resourcefulness in the pursuit of solutions to all problems – and there were many, including complications during reassembly of the Polaris missile, and retracting the Tomahawk’s wings simply to get it through the door of the JFB. As you can see from the photographs, the two missiles are now in place. They certainly have an impact on the appearance of the JFB! Moreover, they make another, very significant, contribution to the the story of the Royal Navy Submarine Service through the Cold War era and into post-Cold War times. The Polaris missile also directly complements the Secret and Silent exhibition … towards which the the Friends also made a very significant funding contribution.
Let us remember as well that other Friends contributions have also elevated the ambience of our museum. There are the enhancements to the display of X24, as well as to the Area of Remembrance with engravings by our own Frank Grenier and the establishment of an impressive Memorial Garden to create an area of quiet contemplation in the vicinity of the Wall remembering more than five thousand people who made the ultimate sacrifice. The recent addition of three olive trees of an age that matches that of the Royal Navy Submarine Service itself is an inspirational achievement by the garden designers.
The appearance of the John Fieldhouse building has indeed changed for the better, both inside and out, and the Friends have contributed to these improvements in more ways than just financially. In fact, everywhere you look in the JFB, there is evidence of Friends’ influence.