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Collections23rd September 2022

Acquisitions and donations to our collection

Year-round, we accept new acquisitions into our permanent museum collection. These objects can come from a variety of sources; generous donations from ex-dockyard workers or their families; purchases of items important to the history of Medway; or transfers from other museums.

Once received, the Collections Department fully documents each object with a unique number and completes a preliminary condition assessment. If needed, the Conservator will carry out appropriate conservation to preserve the item for future generations.  After conservation the object is packed for storage or prepared for exhibition.

The permanent collection is home to over 70,000 items, far more than can ever be exhibited in our galleries at any one time.

Our new acquisitions’ case, in our ‘Plan Your Visit’ area,  affords us a brand-new space where we can make the collection even more accessible to our visitors. The case (and this blog) will be updated throughout the visitor season, so watch this space!

The current rotation in the case features:

The King’s Badge

Approved by King George VI in May 1941, the King’s Badge was issued by the Ministry of Pensions to those who were invalided from the armed forces due to injury or other disablement. By 1944, the Home Guard, Fire Brigade, Coast Guard and Civil Defence organisations had been added to the list of potential recipients.

Each individual badge was issued in its own box, with an accompanying letter from the Ministry of Pensions. Both men and women were issued with the badges, but of a different design- women received badges with a pin fitting on the reverse, whilst the men’s featured a half moon fitting.

The King’s Badge was designed by Percy Metcalfe (b. 1895), a disabled artist and First World War Veteran.


NBCD respirator and assorted Diving Officer’s gear, Lt D.P.R.Hughes, R.N.

Lt D.P.R.Hughes, R.N. began his Naval career at Dartmouth, enlisting as a Cadet before his assignment as midshipman aboard HMS KENT at Chatham. After completing his diving course in the Far East, David joined HMS CAVALIER as a ship’s diver.

“We felt this is it we were the salt of the Navy; the comradeship in the ship was amazing – she was one of the happiest ships I have ever been on.  She still is a very happy ship – they have reunions every year.”- David Hews, speaking to Linda Brown in 2021.

The acquisitions case in progress.

Displayed in the case is David’s NBCD (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence) respirator, Sonex ear defenders, Anti-dimming MK7, diving nose clip and knife. This is just a small selection of David’s gear- he also kindly donated his jet fins, divers’ gloves, and anti-glass eye shields to the collection. The equipment was in use during his posting on HMS CAVALIER, wherein he had his own officer’s cabin (which still exists on the CAVALIER today).

“Because people can come and see and will get CAVALIER, people start to see the reality of the ship, even down to details – I bought my respirator, gas respirator which you would use for exercises, for NBCD (nuclear, biological and chemical defence) every cabin would have its respirator in its little bag hanging…if you go to action stations you just grab your respirator with the bag on it rush to your place – you have it with you – if someone shouts gas! gas! gas! you put it on. ”- David Hews, on the importance of donating.

Diving Officers were typically involved in inspections and repairs of the ship’s hull and bottom, as well as seabed surveys. David’s Royal Navy diving log lists each dive location, duration, and depth in feet. Each entry was signed off by the commanding officer.

If you would like to make a donation, please contact the Collections Department at

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