Stuart Eastwood, curator for over 27 years, is set to retire in February 2020. Stuart, who was previously Keeper of the King’s Own Collection in Lancaster, started at the Museum in 1992 taking over the reins from Ralph May. At this time, the Museum was located in Queen Mary’s Tower within Carlisle Castle.
The Museum’s collection has grown considerably during Stuart’s time as Curator. It’s well-renowned collection tells the history of the County Infantry Regiment (The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, The Border Regiment, The 34th (Cumberland) and 55th (Westmorland) Regiments of Foot) began to outgrow Queen Mary’s Tower and Stuart, with the Trustees and staff, embarked on an ambitious plan to move the collection and archive into a new location within the Castle. With the assistance of Heritage Lottery Funding, the Museum successfully moved into Alma Block and re-opened to the public in 2014
Stuart, originally from Yorkshire, started his working life as an archaeologist before beginning his Museum career at Doncaster Museum in 1979. He is married to Peg and has two grown up children. Stuart is keen to emphasise “Although I am sad to leave the Museum, it is in safe hands. There is a great staff team who will take the Museum on to the next stage of its journey.”
Andrew Dennis, Chair of the Museum Trustees said: “We are immensely grateful to Stuart for his selfless dedication to the Museum, the Regiment, the wider Army, our local and regional community – in a period of tremendous change within both the Museum and the Army. We are also grateful for Stuart’s vision and dogged determination to ensure the Museum’s future by moving it within Carlisle Castle and revitalising what it offered. The Museum move would not have happened without Stuart’s drive, determination, sheer hard work and dedication. Stuart will be fondly remembered as a true ‘people person’; he always had time for visitors and veterans and was generous with his support and knowledge. Stuart will be truly missed by all and we thank him for his enormous contribution.”
During his time at the Museum Stuart has written several books including When Dragons Flew in 1994 which told the story of the 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment at Arnhem. Stuart says; “It has been a fantastic opportunity to work with both the collections and veterans. I have been lucky to meet with both First World War and Second World War veterans highlighting that the Museum is first and foremost about people.”
Colonel Dennis continues: “As Stuart departs, we welcome Jules Wooding who takes over the helm. Jules has worked in the Museum sector for over twenty years, starting her career at the National Army Museum. Before joining Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life in 2014 as Learning and Access Officer, Jules was previously at Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery. She brings with her a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to take the Museum forward.”
Stuart is looking forward to more time in his garden and spending more time out on the fells.
Museum website: www.CumbriasMuseumofMilitaryLife.org