The Hythe Library, located in the green surroundings of the town park, may at first glance look like a fairly ordinary feature of an English coastal town. But step inside and you will find a museum that holds a small but deadly arms cache of vintage weaponry.
This small museum chronicles the general history of Hythe and that of the military school of small arms that existed in the town for almost a century. The little town of Hythe, due to its location on the southeast coast of the English Channel, has always played a distinctly military role.
A few decades after the Napoleonic wars, a musketry school for training the army to use these muzzle-loading weapons was built in the town. In the late 19th century it eventually became a school of small arms as technological advances caused bullets to become the standard ammunition. Here, generations of soldiers were trained how to use various weaponry in preparation for deployment in conflicts including the Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Korean War, the Suez Crisis, the Malayan insurgency, and the Troubles of Northern Ireland.
The selection of weapons on display at the museum date from this time period and include a number of firearms such as rifles, sub-machine guns, a heavy machine gun, pistols, and bullets. Here too are a vicious variety of bladed weapons for use in hand-to-hand combat, such as bayonets, knives, and a couple of Boer War and World War I trench combat swords.
In the late 1960s, the location of the school was moved from Hythe to London, but a military training ground remained at the site and is still in use today, as evidenced by the distant sounds of the firing range that can be heard most days. A number of weapons leftover from the days of the small arms school were brought for display in the library museum, where they have remained ever since.
Know Before You Go
The museum is located inside the library; you can find it on the right as soon as you enter the building. Entrance is free.