Created a year ago, the ARQUUS Fund for Heritage inaugurates the ARQUUS Conservatory on June17 in Garchizy (Nièvre, France). The aim of this Conservatory is to inventory, list, contextualize, highlight andpresent the objects, documents and vehicles that make up the history of Arquus or the historic brandsthat are part of the company's heritage. This Conservatory already brings together more than 70military vehicles from the ARQUUS collections, but also from donations and very promisingpartnerships.
On 17 June, at 11 a.m., Emmanuel LEVACHER, President, ARQUUS, received numerouspersonalities from the civilian and military worlds on the site of the Conservatoire des Trois Glorieuses,at Arquus’ Centre of Expertise for Logistics and Welding in Garchizy.
In his welcoming speech, LEVACHER said: “I am pleased to welcome you this 17th June in Garchizy for the inauguration of the ARQUUS Heritage Conservatory, the fruit of a long-standing reflection. It started with numerous editions of books or documents on line on the ARQUUS website. Among them, an online ephemeris, then two volumes of our brochures entitled “Brèves d'Histoire”, a book, “ARQUUS, Un Siècle d’Innovation et d’Engagement” in 2018 on the occasion of the inaugural evening of ARQUUS, and more recently a set of two comic strips entitled “La Chevauchée d’ARQUUS” (The Ride of ARQUUS), highlighting its prestigious roots.”
“It is now continuing with a more ambitious project, the Heritage Conservatory. Taking advantage of the presence in our own factories of products, sold or not, at the stage of prototypes, test vehicles or products presented to the French or foreign Armies, we considered it essential to keep this memory of the work of all our teams, engineers as well as operators and workshop managers. We have extended this first approach thanks, in particular, to donations or loans from partners who are extremely valuable in helping us to win this challenge,” he added.
This Heritage Conservatory wascreated by the ARQUUS Heritage Department as part of a vast project to cultivate the roots of theGroup and its most prestigious historical brands, Panhard, Renault, Berliet, ACMAT, Auverland andmany others. The Conservatory is fed by Arquus’ current industrial sites: Marolles-en-Hurepoix, thehistoric site of Panhard, with in particular the AML, EBR, VBL; Saint-Nazaire, the historic site ofACMAT with the VLRA; Limoges, a production site for military engines since the 1930s, then aproduction site in particular for the VAB and GBC180 of the French Army. It is fed by foundations,museums, but also private collectors.
The challenge is to gather post-World War II vehicles, in service or not in the French and foreignarmed forces, such as the EBR, the AML, the VAB or the GBC 8KT truck. In a second phase, theConservatoire set itself the objective of searching for older vehicles, wheeled or tracked, belonging toits historical heritage. Some of these vehicles, belonging to the Musée des Blindés, were presentedon 17 June in front of the Conservatoire's premises, such as the FT, the 1918 Victory tank, the Somuatank, the Renault UE35 caterpillar or the B1Bis tank.
An ARQUUS Heritage Endowment Fund has been created in order to collect funds, legacies ordonations under the law on patronage (1983) in order to support the ARQUUS approach to the benefitof heritage. It is in this capacity that the Conservatory was able to carry out fitting-out work for theexhibition on 17 June, and to receive donations and loans of vehicles which were lacking in itscollection. The Conservatoire already houses a dozen vehicles from the Musée des Blindés (Saumur)made available by the French Army, the Paul Legueu collection, donated by the family of the founderof ACMAT, and a VLRA made available by Mr. Fortin, a private collector. Two turrets, the Mistral turretdonated by MBDA and the 25 mm turret donated by John Cockerill join the collection on a LAV andthe CRAB respectively.
The oldest vehicle in the exhibition is a 1916 Berliet CBA, donated by the Berliet Foundation, as wellas a GBC 8KT from its Conservatoire in Montellier. This inauguration is an opportunity to present anexhibition by the Association Renault-Histoire, devoted to the life of the Renault factories in BoulogneBillancourt during the First World War.
This Conservatory will now be open by appointment, pending a future evolution towards a publicreception in the years to come.