London Colney’s de Havilland aviation museum is flying high after £60K donation for redevelopment

The last original Comet jet airliner was moved on January 6 - photo courtesy of Garry Lakin

The last original Comet jet airliner was moved on January 6 - photo courtesy of Garry Lakin - Credit: Archant

The oldest aviation museum in the country has had an eventful week with the repositioning of an iconic airliner and a lottery donation of more than £60,000.

The de Havilland Aircraft museum, in London Colney, was awarded a £62,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund on Tuesday (12) to develop its £1.5 million hangar that will house outstanding aircraft.

That brings the current fundraising total to nearly £500,000, enough to begin ‘groundworks’ on the hangar, according to a de Havilland spokesperson.

Mike Nevin, marketing director at the museum, said: “The new hangar is the most ambitious project on which the museum has ever embarked since it opened to the public in 1959.

“It will see us becoming more closely involved with the community as we will be developing close links with local schools and organisations and providing employment and training opportunities.”

The previous Wednesday (6) also saw a momentous move for the museum when, for the first time in 60 years, the last original de Havilland Comet jet airliner left the ground to make way for the works.

The aircraft, which is a star exhibit at the museum, was lifted by a 50 ton hydraulic crane and moved 30 yards to its new position.

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Brian Kern, Comet project leader at the museum, said: “This Comet is the only one of the first batch built to survive entirely unaltered with its square windows, so it was a very anxious moment when it was raised and moved.

“Any damage would have been disastrous but the crane operators performed the job smoothly and expertly, and we were very relieved when they lowered it safely back onto the ground.”

Minus its wings, tail, engines, undercarriage, flight deck and all internal fixtures and fittings, the aircraft was donated to the de Havilland Museum in 1989.

It is currently being restored and will take pride of place in the new hangar, on which work is expected to begin by the middle of March.