The Tank Museum’s outgoing Director was honoured in a traditional tank-pulling ceremony on his final day at the helm of the Dorset charity.
17 years on from his arrival in Dorset, 16 members of staff pulled a World War Two Matilda II tank with Richard Smith OBE in the commander’s seat.
Museum spokesman Nik Wyness said; “As the longest serving Director in the Museum’s history, Richard oversaw the transformation of The Tank Museum from Dorset curiosity to one of the leading military museums in the world.”
The tank pull has its origins in British armoured regiments, when outgoing Commanding Officers would be drawn in a tank through the garrison gates by the regiment’s senior officers.
During Richard’s tenure, the museum saw a total redevelopment which doubled annual visitors and saw annual turnover increase from £1.6m to £6m.
First visiting The Tank Museum at the age of 2, Richard’s love of tanks was explored in his undergraduate dissertation on the Battle of Cambrai, which used The Tank Museum’s Archive extensively.
After graduating from Durham University with a degree in History, he spent 11 years working internationally for shipping giant P&O, before returning to the UK to become Director of The Tank Museum in 2006.
In 2018, he was appointed OBE for services to military heritage.
Nik added; “The staff are all extremely grateful for Richard’s leadership and support over the years. We wish him well in his next challenge – and look forward to welcoming his successor in the new year.”
Richard hands over to Chris Price, currently CEO of North Yorkshire Moors Railway, who will assume the role of Director in January 2024.