I feel obliged to give an opinion concerning the MOD Pattern Room and current events in England which bear on its future.
Many of us (Lee-Enfield and British militaria collectors) have, at one time or another, roamed among the racks and handled the exhibits at the MOD Pattern Room - or, if not, then we have dreamed of doing so. The MOD Pattern Room collection is a unique, living library. It is also a research facility, which is admired by military historians, researchers and scholars the world over.
In my travels around the Internet, and via other methods of correspondence with Enfield collectors around the world, I have discovered that we may be in danger of losing that wonderful resource forever. Justifiable concern is being expressed over the future of the Pattern Room. It has been located in Nottingham for about ten years, but Nottingham will soon endure yet another of the internal upheavals that regularly occur within Royal Ordnance. Many different individuals, representing various interested groups, have been trying to establish what is planned for the Pattern Room, without any notable success. As a result, rumors are circulating, none of which indicate a positive future.
The Pattern Room is a MOD entity, it has nothing to do with Royal Ordnance, they just provide the land for the building. They presently have no interest in keeping it on site other than as a generator of rent - the Small Arms aspect of Nottingham is disappearing fast. The Pattern Room has no links with the Nottingham except that Nottingham was where the remnants of RSAF Enfield ended up after the sale.
As I have been given to understand, the present arrangement where the Pattern Room rents land and a building from Royal Ordnance, is up for renewal. The negotiations are fraught with danger for the future of the Pattern Room. The new National Amouries at Leeds, which now house the contents once held by the Tower of London, have been linked with the future of the Pattern Room. According to my sources in England, the Leeds complex has attracted a good deal of criticism for its politically correct agenda and it may well not continue the policy of access to the collection that the Pattern Room now allows. They see it as purely a museum, a description the Pattern Room, itself, has always avoided.
Add to this the fact that there is a probable cause to suspect an unhealthy alliance between the bean counters who want it closed, on grounds of economics, and British Aerospace, who own Royal Ordnance and on whose land it presently resides. In addition, Iím told that, the anti-gun rabble in England are beginning to view the Pattern Room as a sacred cow of the pro-gun faction; and they are not adverse to not only seeing closed, but would have all of the contents destroyed if they had their way. Much like the ďgun grabbersĒ in this country (USA).
The secretiveness in which these matters are discussed appears to be unique to England among so-called democracies. My British sources tell me that it is impossible to get any honest information on the future of the Pattern Room, which is a cause for major concern to them, and to me as well. Iím told, and Iím sure, that it would be of considerable embarrassment to British Aerospace, a major world supplier of military hardware, if it were to become known that they were conniving in the destruction or dismemberment of a national treasure - which is exactly what the Pattern Room is.
One of the problems is that no credible spokesman has come forward to concentrate the feelings of national and international groups on the subject.
One person whom Iím told is on the side of the Pattern Room is a Mr. A. Taylerson of Surrey, who apparently also has concerns. His address (if you care to express YOUR concerns to him) is 16 Wrayfield Avenue, Reigate, SURREY, RH12 0NF, UK.
On the other side of the equation, Iím told, is one John Speller, Labour Member of Parliament for Warley, The ďcounty,Ē to use US terminology, in which the Pattern Room resides. Iím given to understand that he is of the opinion that the Pattern Room has no unique significance because duplicates of the items in the collection are held by other "museums". To say that he is not positive in his attitude towards the place would appear to be an understatement.
If any readers of this bulletin board have an opinion on the future of the MOD Pattern Room, I urge you to submit it to those entities who are currently engaged in determining the future of the Pattern Room, or to Mr. Taylerson, address above. I would also appreciate it if you would copy me. If the Pattern Room collection is lost, not only will England lose a national treasure, but firearms collectors and researchers around the world will lose an invaluable resource for information.
G. Greg Young
Alaska Enfield Headquarters