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Norfolk museum rolls out plan to save war machine

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A war museum has set its sights on saving a piece of military history with the help of enthusiasts and supporters.

Norfolk Tank Museum in Forncett St Peter must raise £60,000 in order to acquire a prototype Challenger 1 tank from the late 1970s, which its board’s chairman described as helping to shape modern British Army machines today.

Stephen Machaye said: “We need to save this tank – it is part of our heritage. It deserves to be in a museum enabling people to see it and experience it.

Stephen Machaye inside the Norfolk Tank Musem. Picture: Mark Bullimore.
Stephen Machaye inside the Norfolk Tank Musem. Picture: Mark Bullimore.

“I had known about its location for a while now and, as it is such a significant piece of military history, I spoke to its owner.

“He was very supportive of us buying it from him. Now, it’s a case of raising the money to get it.”

The prototype was designed and built at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Leeds, and was being used as a static target on live-firing ranges before being purchased by a military dealer.

Mr Machaye said he would love to add it to the museum’s collection, which also includes the first Centurion AVRE tank ever built and a replica MK IV tank built as part of a Channel 4 documentary starring Guy Martin.

The 52-year-old said: “I have been collecting military stuff since I was 10 years old and it would just be amazing to get this prototype here.”

The project would take up to three years and will involve totally stripping down the tank so it can be brought back to full working order.

If the museum hits its target figure, it is hoped that visitors will be able to see the process and talk to some of the volunteers who will be tasked with helping to restore it.

Mr Machaye said: “We would like to thank those people who have already donated and hope that others, who would want to see this piece of tank history in our collection, donate too and help us bring it back to its former glory.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the fund-raising for the prototype, click here.

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