image Collections in Focus: Chamber Pot Trophy

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1949 Football trophy in the shape of a chamber pot. 1986.3034.

In case it’s not in your calendar, today is World Toilet Day 2020. It’s an unofficial United Nations observance day that aims to get you thinking about the 4.2 billion people around the world who live without safely managed sanitation. Check the World Toilet Day website to find out more.

The global sanitation crisis is a serious subject but we’ve got a light hearted artefact from our collection to share with you to mark World Toilet Day. It’s a unique REME football trophy from the Corps’ early years, designed in the shape of a chamber pot.

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Top down view of the chamber pot trophy. Some of the paint has worn away with age. 1986.3034.

The trophy is made out of wood and is no more than 10cm tall. It was awarded to winner of the REME Singapore Officers versus Warrant Officers and Sergeants Football Challenge Cup, played for on Christmas Day 1949. We’re not sure who won.

Underneath the inscription is what looks like a Latin inscription: ‘NIL EXTRAHIR URINUM AB OFFICIOUS’. We’re not students of the classics here at the Museum but it might be assumed that the inscription is both a bit rude and not something you’d find carved into an ancient monument.

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The inscription on the trophy. This has been painted on with a steady hand. 1986.3034.

Interestingly, Halesworth and District Museum in Suffolk also have a chamber pot trophy in their collection, awarded for the winner of a game of ‘dwile flonking’. Unfortunately for the toilet trophy enthusiast, the Museum of Chamber Pots and Toilets in Prague has now closed.

The first representative Corps football match was held in 1948. However, we know from our records that unit games were being played from 1942 onwards. Football remains the most popular REME sport with male and female players consistently representing the Army and Combined Services.*

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A unit team mid-game on a Christmas Island beach, circa 1960s. REME have been playing football all over the world for more than 75 years. A:1973.1238.025.

In 1949, when the match the trophy commemorates was played, REME personnel were operating out of Singapore in support of the British response to the Malayan Emergency. The guerrilla war, fought by pro-independence members of the Malayan National Liberation Army had begun in 1948.

This funny football trophy was given to the Museum by Major (Retired) C A Newlove in the 1980s. It is currently displayed in our REME Sports exhibition. The exhibit charts Corps sports through the ages and features some great artefacts from the Museum collection and kindly loaned by teams.

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Sporting memorabilia on display in our REME Sports exhibit, opened January 2020.

The REME Museum is currently closed to the public, per government guidelines. We hope we can reopen soon so you can see this fascinating trophy and all the other intriguing relics of REME history we display across our eight modern, interactive galleries.

*With apologies to REME Football for picking World Toilet Day to blog about the history of REME football. Follow the REME Football Association on Twitter to keep up with their wins.

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