Frustration over gun delay

FRUSTRATED museum officials have a big gap in their exhibition to mark the Falklands War's 25th anniversary - because they have been waiting a year for their show piece to return.

By Richard Cornwell

FRUSTRATED museum officials have a big gap in their exhibition to mark the Falklands War's 25th anniversary - because they have been waiting a year for their show piece to return.

Pride of place in the display at Felixstowe Museum was due to go to an Argentine rifle presented to the crew of Felixstowe-based Baltic Ferry which took part in the conflict.

It was sent away to be decommissioned in March last year, but has still not been returned.

But today the company which took on the task of arranging deactivation said it was doing the work at great cost to itself and would not be working with any museums again.

Colin Tod from Felixstowe Museum at Landguard, said it had been hoped the FN rifle would have been back well in time for the opening of the season and the start of the exhibition last month.

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Mr Tod said: “We gave it to Riflecraft in March 2006 because the police told us we would need a decommissioning certificate if we were going to put the gun on display and expected the work to take six to eight weeks.

“Everyone is very disappointed because it has left a big hole in our exhibition and was an important exhibit.”

Andrew Evans-Hendrick, of Riflecraft, based near Diss, said the company donated some items to a Suffolk museum and word had quickly spread that it was willing to help others.

He said: “This made us a bit of a soft touch and gave us a rod for our own back because we had several asking for help and we didn't like to turn them away.

“We told the Felixstowe Museum people deactivating a gun was major work and not something we did but we could take it to the specialists in Cumbria the next time we went - there are many restrictions on moving weapons and this gun needed 14 separate operations and welding to deactivate it.

“I am very disappointed in the museum's attitude and we won't be having anything to do with museums in the future. This has really soured things for us. This work has cost us around £400 and we are only charging them about £75.”

The gun had now been returned to the company and they would be getting it back to the museum next week.

Felixstowe Museum is open from 1pm to 5.30pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

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