Come fly with me

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

HE RAF Mu­seum in Hen­don has been granted £1.783 mil­lion by the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund as it con­tin­ues its multi-mil­lion-pound trans­for­ma­tion in time to mark the cen­te­nary of the Royal Air Force in 2018. The award will en­able the mu­seum to tell the story of the his­toric site, which, as a for­mer air­field, can claim to be one of the cra­dles of avi­a­tion.

In 1911, Claude Gra­ham-white, one of Bri­tain’s first avi­a­tor celebri­ties, set up the Lon­don Fly­ing Club, of­fer­ing train­ing in the fly­ing of mono­planes and bi­planes. His spec­tac­u­lar aerial der­bies be­came part of the sum­mer so­cial cal­en­dar. In the First World War, the aero­drome was req­ui­si­tioned by the Royal Air Ser­vice, out of whose merger with the Royal

TF­ly­ing Corps the RAF emerged in 1918. Gra­ham-white’s fac­tory units be­came one of the largest air­craft­pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties in Bri­tain dur­ing the hos­til­i­ties.

One of the orig­i­nal fac­tory build­ings, the Claude Gra­ham-white hangar, has al­ready been trans­formed as part of the up­grade and houses an ex­hi­bi­tion on air power in the First World War.

Draw­ing on ar­chive and col­lec­tion arte­facts, the His­toric Hen­don phase of the pro­gramme will see the mu­seum work­ing with lo­cal vol­un­teers to re­search and de­velop in­ter­pre­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties and ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­scor­ing the site’s unique air­field her­itage (www.raf­mu­seum.org.uk). Jack Watkins

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