All Posts By

Brian

Urgent Action Needed to Save Unique Blackburn Beverley From Being Scrapped

Blackburn Beverley XB259

The sole remaining example of one of the Royal Air Force’s most important transport aircraft, the Blackburn Beverley, is at risk of being scrapped. Aviation Heritage UK’s Chairman, Dr Robert Pleming, is calling for urgent action to save this unique aircraft for the Nation.

Blackburn Beverley XB259 is currently located at Fort Paull near Hull, Yorkshire’s only remaining Napoleonic fortress, which has until recently been serving as a military museum. However the closure of the attraction has forced its owner to put the site up for sale. 

With no acceptable bids having been received, the site and its contents, including the Beverley, are due to be sold piecemeal by Gilbert Baitson Auctioneers in a timed online auction ending at 10:00am on Saturday 19th September. The purchaser of the Beverley would have nine months to arrange for its collection. 

Dr Robert Pleming, Chairman of AHUK, said: “Blackburn Beverley XB259 is one of the largest preserved airframes in the UK, and if scrapped, would be the first post-war British aircraft for which there are no examples left. Beverley XB259 represents an important part of British aviation heritage, and deserves to be preserved in its entirety.”

In RAF service, the Beverley served operationally with several squadrons, including 47, 30, 34 and 53, with home bases at Abingdon and Dishforth, but it also deployed overseas in Aden (now Yemen), where two were lost to land mines during operations, Bahrain, Kenya and in Singapore during the Indonesian Confrontation of the mid- 1960s.The aircraft was also briefly operated in Vietnam to support flood relief work.

AHUK hopes that one of the national aviation museums will step in at the last minute to save the aircraft.

The Blackburn Beverly made a significant contribution to the post-war operations of RAF Transport Command. With its large cargo volume, the Beverley was designed for carrying bulk loads and operating from rough runways or dirt strips. The main cargo area could carry 94 troops, with an additional 36 in the tail boom. When it entered service in 1955, it was the largest aircraft in the RAF.

The prototype flew in June 1950.  It was the surprise of SBAC Farnborough Air Show that year, when its vast bulk left the ground with ease and then performed a slow flypast and very short landing, reversing back down the runway to the amazement of spectators.

Beverley XB259 was the first production aircraft, and went on to perform trials work at the Royal Aircraft Establishment into the early 1970s. XB259 was also the last Beverley to fly – its final landing was on the grass strip at Hull Aero Club near Paull on 30th March 1974.

In total 49 Beverleys were produced at the Blackburn factory at Brough. The type entered RAF service on 29th January 1955, with the first operational aircraft arriving at RAF Abingdon in March 1956. After serving all around the world, the Beverley was retired from RAF service in December 1967, replaced by the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

Featured image photo credit kitmasterbloke on Flickr via Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

And the winner is…

The 2020 Aviation Heritage Awards are now open for nominations.

The annual Aviation Heritage Awards are intended to identify, recognise and reward those exceptional Organisations, Groups or Individuals who have gone above and beyond to help support and promote the UK aviation heritage sector.

Do you know someone who does their all to support a charity or specific cause? Did the nominee have to overcome a particular obstacle or problem or achieve something especially significant?

This could have been by organising fundraising events, carrying out a restoration project, providing exceptional customer support, inspiring others or just generally raising awareness. You might know about a team of volunteers who have carried out an outstanding restoration project.

It could be almost anything. There are no strict guidelines or criteria for the award because we’d like to hear about those truly remarkable special individuals, groups or even an entire museum who have made an exceptional contribution to aviation heritage.

As this is a dynamic award, nominees should have achieved these things since 1st January 2019.

Our two awards are Individual of the year and Team/Group/Museum of the year.

We are also inviting nominations for our Lifetime Achievement Awards. This is open to any individual who has given many years of dedicated service to aviation heritage

Anyone can nominate and seconders are not required.

It’s easy to make a nomination. Simply send the organisations or individuals name and a short description of their achievement to secretary@aviationheritageuk.org telling us why you think they merit the award. Don’t forget your email address and telephone number so that we can get back to you for more details if we need to.

The award will be presented at the Annual General meeting in June so the closing date for entries is 20th April 2020.

Bookings open for the first Aviation STEM Conference

Sorry, but due to Corona virus, RAF Halton have cancelled this event.

We will re-schedule when things settle down again. Stay Safe!

Do you want to deliver STEM but not sure where to start?

STEMing The Rot is a one-day conference, part of Aviation Heritage UK’s Stopping the Rot series, and explores how STEM is changing and discusses what tomorrow’s museum staff and volunteers might like to do.

STEM in Aviation is possibly one of the biggest growth areas for us in recent years. The Heritage Lottery Fund and many other funding providers now demand a STEM element in applications


Hear from a diverse range of speakers and have the chance to take part in discussions exploring:

  • different approaches to delivering STEM
  • how Museums and Groups can stay relevant and meet the needs of today’s curriculum
  • sharing STEM ideas and successes – and even a few things that didn’t go so well
  • how STEM fits in with funding applications
  • practical STEM ideas that you can use

This conference is for everyone who cares for STEM and it’s importance to young people from ages 4 to 16. It aims to showcase successes, inspire ways forward with sharing STEM ideas and promoting them to a wide variety of new and established audiences.

Speakers include:

Rosalind Azouzi                Royal Aeronautical Society

Bill McGrath                     Trenchard Museum

Shelley Hancock              STEM Ambassadors

Amy Seadon                     Aerospace Bristol

Katherine McAlpine           Imperial War Museum

Toni Hunter                     The Aviation Experience Company

Susan Raikes                   Science Museum

Mike Odd                         RAF Museum

Virginia Smith                  Brooklands Museum

Dempster Hamilton           RAF Model Flying Association

STEMing The Rot

The Trenchard Museum, RAF Halton, Wendover, Buckinghamshire HP22 5PG

Thursday 19th March 2020

10.30am to 16.30pm

Attendance is Free. Lunch is included.

Book now at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/steming-the-rot-tickets-94840393169?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Harrier Test Bed on the move

A unique Harrier jump-jet testbed, saved by The Helicopter Museum (THM) at Weston-super-Mare from being scrapped eight years ago, is going on loan to the Hucknall Flight Test Museum (HUFTM) under the jurisdiction of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, after the museums reached agreement on restoring the aircraft and displaying it at the Rolls-Royce site in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

 The unusual aircraft was especially built in the early 1980s to test a Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan engine modified with plenum chamber burning (PCB), intended to substantially increase the power for the proposed supersonic P1154  “Super Harrier”.  The Pegasus engine installation was further fitted with a pair of reheat units, taken from a Tornado combat aircraft.  Many of the component parts of the engine used in the PCB Harrier project were also developed and manufactured on the Hucknall site.  The HUFTM is therefore a highly relevant location for this unique heritage artefact to finally go on display.  The work actually required the cannibalisation of two Harrier airframes, the wing of T2 XW264 married to the fuselage of GR.1 XV798, with an extended steel cage centre section and gantry attachments added to enable the composite aircraft to be hung at various angles in an especially built suspended rig at the MoD Proof and Experimental Establishment at Shoeburyness, Essex.  This test rig was very similar in concept to the original tethered gantry arrangement used for the pioneering initial flights of the famous Flying Bedstead at Hucknall, in the early 1950’s.

Testing in the rig began in 1983 and continued through 1986 but in the event the P1154 project was cancelled and, although PCB research continued for application to newer VSTOL projects, the Harrier testbed was abandoned.  In 1994 it was salvaged by volunteers and placed in storage with the Bristol Aero Collection, but the closure of their Kemble base in 2012 saw the aircraft threatened with being scrapped.  Instead The Helicopter Museum stepped in and it was transported to Weston-super-Mare for continued storage, pending plans to build a new hangar and construct a new gantry to properly display the unique exhibit. 

Unfortunately funding for this project had to be put on hold due to other priorities but last year saw volunteers at the Hucknall Flight Test Museum offer to take on the restoration project and, importantly, place the aircraft under cover.  An agreement has since been reached to transfer the Harrier, initially on a three-year loan, and the aircraft was transported to its new home on 30th January.

Chairman of THM, Elfan Ap Rees, said “We are delighted with this arrangement, which will see the continued conservation of this important development in VSTOL technology and give visitors the Hucknall Flight Museum, a real and unusual aircraft to view when they visit the centre”. 

A HUFTM spokesman said “After many months of negotiation and numerous challenging administrative hurdles, we are now absolutely delighted to have acquired this totally unique exhibit under a loan agreement with THM and we now need to undertake a considerable amount of preparation work at Hucknall before we present it to visitors. 

An official RRHT exhibit inauguration media event is planned at Hucknall for Summer 2020.

Marham’s Victor XH673 looking for a new home

The decision has been taken to allow up until the end of Feb 2020 for serious, costed and plausible offers to be received for the Marham Victor, XH673.

The aircraft will come free of charge but will have to be moved at the receiver’s expense. Any successful bidder will need to demonstrate that they have the financial means and practical capability to effect such a move.

The Spring and Summer months would present the best opportunity to carry out the move activity and a time scale for this can be negotiated.

Between now and the end of Feb, DESA will carry out a ‘scrapping survey’ in the event no workable bids are received. If the aircraft is to be scrapped, then Marham wish to preserve the tail fin and mount it as an appropriate memorial to the Victor force – in a similar location to where the aircraft is now.

Thanks to Richard Flagg for the photo.

Interested? Contact the Secretary for details of how to apply.

Aviation Archive Conference open for bookings

‘To Infinity and Beyond?’

Preserving and Promoting the Records of Britain’s Aerospace and Aviation Industries

12 February 2020

Aerospace Bristol

10:30-16:00

£10 plus VAT (£12), including lunch

The archives of Britain’s aerospace and aviation industries chronicles stories of design, advances in science and technology, and the business of international and space travel, all with the aim of perfecting man’s dream to master powered flight.

This one-day conference is for everyone who cares for the industry’s paper-based and electronic collections, both large and small. It aims to highlight these records’ importance and inspire ways forward in preserving and promoting them to a wide variety of new and established audiences.

Speakers include:

  • Keynote Speaker: Prof. David Egerton, Kings College London and author of “Britain and the Aeroplane”
  • Michael Lombardi, Boeing archivist and historian.
  • Graham Rood on Farnborough Air Sciences Trust’s work to rescue and promote the Royal Aircraft Establishment collections.
  • Amy Seadon on Aerospace Bristol’s projects to engage children with STEM.
  • Ally McConnell on how Gloucester Archives won a large grant to make Dowty’s archives more accessible.
  • Andrew Lewis on working with Brooklands Museum’s volunteers.
  • Howard Mason on the business drivers for maintaining and exploiting the BAE Systems network of archives.

Plus there will be an opportunity to visit the new Aerospace Bristol galleries and archive, and see the National Aerospace Library’s conservation volunteers in action.

The conference will also introduce the Aerospace and Aviation Archives Initiative (AAAI) and its work. The AAAI comprises representatives from organisations, museums and corporate collections and aims to promote the preservation of, and access to, Britain’s records relating to aerospace and aviation. One of its first jobs is find out more about our aerospace and aviation archives collections and delegates are encouraged to take part in this quick survey.

Discussion on the day will encourage delegates to help shape the future work of the AAAI. More information about the AAAI can be found via https://www.aviationarchives.uk.

The conference has been generously supported by The Royal Aeronautical Society Foundation.

To book, visit: https://www.aerosociety.com/events-calendar/to-infinity-and-beyond-preserving-and-promoting-the-records-of-britain-s-aerospace-and-aviation-industries/.

Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre signs agreement with the Royal Air Force Museum


Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre (MASHC) is pleased to announce it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Air Force Museum to establish a partnership to foster the interests of MASHC and the Royal Air Force Museum through collaborative programmes and other shared learning opportunities.

The aim of the partnership is to strengthen cooperation between MASHC and the Royal Air Force Museum in order to enhance each organisation’s programmes and provide an opportunity for staff and collections development.



Ron Morris, Chairman MASHC, Clare Carr, RAFM, Maggie Appleton, CEO RAFM, Alan Doe, MASHC

Both Museums value their shared interests and goals and will continue to build on the relationship already established, developing this partnership in order to achieve the best outcomes for visitors. MASHC and the Royal Air Force Museum will actively seek opportunities to share collections where practicable and will consider Special Partnership Loan Terms where possible.

Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre Chairman Ron Morris said “This is a great step forward for MASHC to be aligned in a partnership with the Royal Air Force Museum. The opportunity to be able to share collections and gain experience from this partnership will greatly enhance the quality of experience visitors to our museum will get. The impact of Montrose Air Station in the development of the RFC and RAF and the place it holds in aviation history is significant and relationships like this with the Royal Air Force Museum only strengthens our ability to draw visitors to Montrose to learn about the history and legacy of the RAF in Scotland.”

RAF Museum CEO Maggie Appleton says: “We are delighted to be strengthening our ties with Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre. At the RAF Museum it is our duty to share the RAF’s stories with the world through our archives, collections and exhibits. Further to that, we also see it as our responsibility to work with other organisations to both learn from them and share our own experience of running a Museum and engaging with audiences. We look forward to this deepening of our relationship with our friends at MASHC.”

Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Congratulations to AHUK Members Ulster Aviation Society and Morayvia.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK, the MBE for voluntary groups.

The awards for Ulster Aviation Society near Belfast and Morayvia near Inverness were announced on 2nd June 2018 with the official release of the 2018 recipients in the London Gazette.

A record 250 voluntary groups from across the UK will receive a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for their work in their communities in this years list.

The unique UK national honour was created by Her Majesty to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002 and to recognise the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers.

See the full list of winners (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 31.7KB) .

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said:

Everyone who has received this award should be incredibly proud. Their service, commitment and care has a profoundly positive impact on communities throughout the country and I am delighted they have been recognised with this prestigious award.

The record number of recipients this year is testament to the strength of the voluntary sector and I am sure this trend will continue into the future. If you know any organisations that deserve to be recognised, make your voice heard and nominate them for next year.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Independent Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Sir Martyn Lewis said:

This year’s record number of Queen’s Award awardees are a powerful testimony to the remarkable achievements and innovative ideas which characterise volunteering in the UK. They prove that, more than ever, volunteers beavering away at grassroots level are the active lifeblood of our communities, identifying all kinds of problems and issues and tackling them with enthusiasm, talent and a high degree of success.

The recipients of the Queen’s Award are at the very top of a formidable volunteering movement in the UK involving millions of our citizens, and going from strength to strength.”

Any volunteer-led group made of two or more people can be nominated for the award. Visit the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service website for more details.

Nominations for the 2019 awards close on 14 September 2018.

Brooklands Museum Wins Coveted Museums + Heritage Award

Brooklands Museum in Surrey has won the prestigious Museums and Heritage Award for Permanent Exhibition, seeing off stiff competition from some major national institutions such as the Science Museum Group and Natural History Museum. The award was announced at a gala awards ceremony in London and presented by the Reverend Richard Coles.

The award was for the ambitious Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed, a major £8.4M project that involved dismantling, restoring and relocating a Grade 2 Listed WWII Bellman Hangar and reinterpreting it inside as an aircraft factory. As well as restoring and re-profiling the section of original 1907 Race Track where the Hangar once stood, the project also included constructing a new purpose-built Flight Shed to display live aircraft with a new archive store and workshop beneath. The Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed opened to the public in November 2017.

On why the Judges chose Brooklands as the winner, they said: “This new exhibition has it all – it’s immersive, creative, people-focused. It is astonishing in its risk-taking, has great volunteers at its heart and challenging in the way it has so brilliantly brought its collection alive.” Also, Bold inspiring and interactive – made even more special by great people!”

The competition saw a broad range of entries from remarkable achievements of national institutions to projects crafted with limited resources and those championing their staff and volunteers who work hard to deliver inspiring visitor experiences. The Permanent Exhibition category included National Army Museum, Ashmolean Museum, London’s Natural History Museum and part of the Science Museum Group, “Wonderlab” on the shortlist. Other categories included Volunteer of the Year, Educational Initiative, Marketing Campaign and Project on a Limited Budget.

Entry to the new exhibition spaces is included in the general admission price to the Museum which is open daily. The whole experience is enhanced and brought to life by volunteer stewards and demonstrators, some of them former employees of the Brooklands factories (which employed 14,000 people from surrounding towns and villages at their peak). The volunteers share their own reminiscences making every visit unique and which is a highlight for most visitors.

Brooklands Museum Director and CEO, Tamalie Newbery said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have won this award from Museums and Heritage for our Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed project. After years of planning, fundraising and the dedication and hard work of our Volunteers, Staff and supporters, we have produced a visitor experience that really is unique and fully deserving of the incredible heritage that Brooklands is famous for.”

The Museum has seen record visitor figures for the same period since the new facilities opened.

Brooklands is also currently one of five finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year Award which is the world’s biggest museum award and will be announced on 5th July.