de Havilland Aircraft Museum awarded £90k grant as it plans for May reopening
- Credit: Garry Lakin
Bigger and better than ever is the promise from the country’s oldest aviation museum after it was awarded a £90,000 grant to help it reopen its doors in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.
The award has been made to the de Havilland Aircraft Museum by the Arts Council England from the government's Culture Recovery Fund.
The museum plans to reopen to visitors on May 18.
Announcing the award at its site at Salisbury Hall, London Colney, museum chairman Alan Brackley said: “Being closed for most of last year under the pandemic regulations has had a major impact on the finances of the museum.
“This award provides the museum with much-needed stability as we begin the process of renewal and growth and enables us to plan more visitor-related activities.”
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With its large new display hangar now fully fitted out with new-style electronic information boards around some of its score of classic de Havilland aircraft and artefacts, the museum says it will be making a visit a truly great experience.
“There is so much to see and much of it is undercover and fully accessible,” said Mr Brackley.
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“Nowhere else can visitors control an historic working flight simulator, and tour the last surviving original de Havilland Comet, the world’s first jet airliner, as well as seeing restoration work being carried out on some of the rare aircraft,” he added.
In a major reorganisation of exhibits and information displays carried out during the closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the restoration work being carried out by teams of volunteers on a range of iconic civil and military aircraft has, for the first time in the museum’s 62-year history, been allocated a whole hangar.
“Visitors will be able to see what is being done and chat to the skilled volunteers doing the work,” said Mr Brackley.
“This work is incredibly important if these wonderful aircraft are to survive.”
It will be the first chance many visitors will have to see the new display hangar built at the museum, with the aid of a near-£3 million grant from the National Lottery and other grants and donations.
The hangar provides climate-controlled conditions for some of the aircraft more susceptible to deterioration.
It is one of three hangars which are all fully accessible and provide an undercover experience for visitors as they see the range of aircraft all designed and built by the de Havilland Aircraft Company at its Hatfield headquarters.
Star attractions are the world’s largest collection of DH98 Mosquito, the all-wood, twin-engine multi-role aircraft of the Second World War.
There are three on display at the de Havilland museum, including the prototype W4050.
A range of de Havilland propeller, jet and rocket engines is now a feature display, alongside a number of air-to-air missiles from the de Havilland drawing boards.
“Many people do not realise that de Havilland produced more than just aircraft, that the company also produced its own propeller and jet engines, its own propellers, its own rockets, and our museum is the perfect place to see the whole company story,” said Mr Brackley.
The museum and its well-stocked shop and enlarged café with outside ranch tables, are signposted just off Junction 22 of the M25. There is free parking and wheelchair access to all display hangars.
Full details about the museum can be found on its website at www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk where visitors can also see its big new range of virtual and video features.