The inner skin of the lower floors is all concrete block work and is therefore great for fixing shelves that will carry heavy equipment. The upper floor room dividing walls are a timber frame construction that has fire resistant plasterboard walls however, behind the plasterboard, are sheets of thick plywood to provide a sound fixing for shelves and equipment. In each corner of the building we have access hatches to the external antenna brackets that have been fixed to the building’s steelwork. This will enable ready access to the antennas that will be mounted to the four corners of the museum and to the antenna tower that will be erected adjacent to the building.
We always knew that we wanted significant strength in the first floor structure, as the point loads of a row of 19″ racks full of military radios is quite significant. When our structural steel consultants revisited their calculations they decided that some of our steel work should be upgraded in situ. This put the overall project back about 4 weeks but better safe than sorry!
To make the upper floor very strong, to support the weight of many heavy radios, it was decided to create the upper floor with concrete beams and blocks. This approach also provides greater fire protection when compared with a traditional timber construction.
The idea of opening a museum has been in the mind of Steve Haseldine for about 15 years and radio equipment has been steadily acquired on an on-going basis. Initially stored at his home, space soon became an issue and much of the collected equipment went into dry storage. In 2005, Steve had a new building constructed for one of his companies and air conditioned space was allocated for both radio storage and more importantly a workshop, to enable restoration and alignment work to be undertaken. Within a short time, this storage space also became inadequate and more dry storage locations were rented. This continued to mid 2014 when the decision to create a museum was finally made. At this stage an estimate was made of the amount of space that would be required for static display, active display and an electronics workshop. Of course the amount of space is inevitably constrained by the cost of buying it and then the on-going costs of heating, air conditioning, rates etc ! It was determined that ideally we would require between five and six thousand square feet of space.
The next decision was do we “buy an existing building” or “have a new one built”. The main problem in 2014 was that no suitable existing property was available in or around Derby and equally there was little speculative construction taking place. We came across a brown field site where the old factory buildings had been demolished and the site was being converted into a new small business park. Most of the units on the site were already sold and built but there was one plot where we could build a two storey detached building with just about the right internal space. There was space for erecting a tower and adequate car parking. The outline design was made and the deal to purchase was made over a three week period. Since then it has been full steam ahead!