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Thread: RAF Museum Hendon - Closure / Dispersion of Battle of Britain Hall

  1. #1
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    RAF Museum Hendon - Closure / Dispersion of Battle of Britain Hall

    I visited the dismantled aircraft in the BoB Hall. All very interesting, but, I am dumbstruck by the fact this wonderful hall is being closed and its items dispersed.

    The signage gives a false impression that they are just checking the condition of the aircraft. There is no mention that the hall will close, the bombers will go in the bomber hall and the fighters in next to the cafe in the main hall. It does not mention that the Me110 and Ju88 are off to cosford with the defiant, nor that the jungmann will be disposed of. It doesn't say what will happen to the art, the relics, the replica Uxbridge ops room, searchlight mannequins, art, medals and Churchill. All aircraft are effected except the Sunderland. Information is out there in the web, but not that readily available.

    The hall gives context to the Battle of Britain, it is a national curriculum subject and also covered Evacuees as well as events leading to the war. The film was a big favourite of my non aviation enthusiastic family. One could readily see which were the main aircraft of both sides and the film made it easy to understand for all ages. I don't care that the ju88, 87 and 110 and 111 were later models, they were examples. Besides joe public did not care. How can the BoB be told with the aircraft dispersed?

    I asked a few visitors what the thought of the hall going. All were surprised. I left a comments slip but it sounds like no one will read it or care.

    I feel aggrieved that whilst the RAF history is more than the Battle, it was the Finest Hour not only for the RAF but also this country. It was a huge turning point in those very very dark days.

    Whilst a museum needs to be fresh and appealing to the public (not just enthusiasts), forgetting the Battle is not the way to do it. I would have expected the Battle to be a big part of the RAF 100th anniversary, not hidden away. It would be like the RN forgetting Trafalgar, Tarranto, Jutland etc or the Army forgetting Waterloo etc.

    When I was a student in the 80s, I spent many days walking around that Hall and reflecting. In the years to today, I would spend at least two days a year there. it is a tragedy that this will no longer be possible

    Sorry, but the RAF Museum have upset me with this. I cannot believe the wider RAF would be happy.

    If I am wide of the mark or wrong please correct me. I will post some pictures of what we will be losing.

    Please keep this discussion on track and not descend to discussion on lighting!

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    Just reading this makes my blood boil, i for one visit Hendon on a regular basis mainly because of the "Battle of Britain Hall" and the aircraft and stories films within it. (is it me or is this very disrespectful) surely if one hall should remain then its got to be the memory to the Few.Like you say Rocketeer wouldn't you of thought the Battle of Britain would of been a big part of the Raf 100th anniversary (strange decision to say the least)

    When you consider that many schools and the very young Generation visit Hendon on a daily basis,then surely this remarkable and courageous story will be lost.. as how else will the story of one of the biggest battles in our history be told.

    (This is when im very thankful to the smaller Museums around the country in keeping this Story alive)

    This will be a big loss to the Museum, lets just hope its a temporary decision.
    Last edited by hawker1966; 31st May 2016 at 22:54.

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    Wasn't the Dornier eventually coming to the Battle of Britain hall Hendon?

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    Whilst I agree that it is a great shame that this unique collection of aircraft is being dispersed I think most would agree that the Battle-of-Britain Hall is well overdue for a serious refurbishment.

    Collection aircraft seem to move around a lot more between the RAF Museum (and other) sites these days, and the sub-collection in question has been all but static for forty years, so we can only hope that the these aircraft will be reunited in the not too distant future (in a new purpose-built building, perhaps on a Battle-of-Britain airfield, that reflects both the historical value and the unique nature of these aircraft)?
    WA$.

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    The changes could be a response to this strategic plan described in the following report. See in particular page 12 - the BoB was not designated as an individual "chapter":

    http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/document...14_to_2019.pdf
    "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."(Mary Baker Eddy)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Consul View Post
    The changes could be a response to this strategic plan described in the following report:

    http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/document...14_to_2019.pdf
    The RAF Museum Colindale.....where the **** is Colindale? Oh, they mean RAF Hendon!
    WA$.

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    I agree that the hall could have done with some updating but I am greatly disappointed/upset to find it is closing. I too was under the impression when I visited earlier this year that the aircraft were only undergoing inspection. It feels they have been a little disingenious if this is the case. Especially when they have posted the likes of this on YouTube https://youtu.be/nq0era2R_zk

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    I gave up trying to read that corporate bollox document, my blood pressure was suffering.
    The list of stake holders missed the biggest player - the tax paying public!
    Don't give me a digital culture, all that means is even more 'out of order' signs hanging off computer screens on pedestals and dumbed down data on the remaining working screens.
    Also, if the RAF's Finest hour isn't one of the Core objectives I don't what is.
    The BoB hall was fine as it was before the film show ruined it and that out of scale statue appeared.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aeronut 2008 View Post
    The list of stake holders missed the biggest player - the tax paying public!
    Maybe not in the list of stakeholders but later in the document it describes the 'audience' of the museum(s):

    "The Museum's core audiences are local. In London, this means great diversification of backgrounds, origins and ethnicities. For both sites, there is a passing of the militarised generations of wartime and national service to a public with little experience of the RAF. The Museum needs to help them to understand the RAF."
    It is an interesting statement that the museum's 'core' audience is local. Surely that is a statement of failure on the part of the museum; the visitors to any museum should come because of what the museum is and not just because the museum is conveniently located? And free.
    Last edited by Creaking Door; 1st June 2016 at 00:39.
    WA$.

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    It really seems the RAFM has lost it's way. I know they were offered the donation of an immaculate P-40 to replace the dogs breakfast they have on exhibit now. They had no interest at all.

    I think after the Copping affair they just wanted to duck and cover and were unwilling to have potential comparison if a new P-40 was to arrive for exhibit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocketeer View Post
    I visited the dismantled aircraft in the BoB Hall. All very interesting, but, I am dumbstruck by the fact this wonderful hall is being closed and its items dispersed.
    How has this come as a surprise when we were posting photos of the aircraft in the BoB Hall being dismantled

    http://forum.keypublishing.com/showt...endon+bob+hall

    and posted various links at the time to what was going on at Hendon.

    http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/w...8-million-for/

    Brian
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    Having spoken at length recently with a member of staff at the museum, the comments historically on here back up exactly what they said. The vast majority of Aviation enthusiasts that visit the museum are gentleman in the 40+ age range who visit in small numbers during the week. Some school visits occur during weekdays as part of their curriculum studies.

    In far far greater numbers are the visitors at the weekend, and consist almost entirely of families who spend 2-3 hours at the museum and move on. These are mostly Londoners and surrounding areas, with tourists and visitors to the country. In contrast are the visitor stats to Cosford, who do not benefit with the same level of transport accessibility as Hendon does.
    The current RAFM management are much more in touch now with the majority of its visitors, whereas historically they only saw what occurred at the museum during the weekdays, the new management see and know what their weekend visitors bring to the site.

    At the end of the day it is a "Museum of the RAF", most of the range of exhibits I say personally fit better in an "Imperial War Museum" environment. I quite agree that a post war Jungmann has no place in the "museum of the RAF". Equally, much as I love the artefacts in the BoB hall, I do believe that the RAF museum should tell the whole story of the RAF, not just a few campaigns.

    Their aim is to tell this story to little Jimmy who has a maximum attention span of 3 hours, so to go into finite detail of everything will be lost on them, and your previously excited child gets bored. What is the most popular exhibit there? It's not the Lanc, or the super rare machines, it's the knackered old JP fuselage that Jimmy and his friends can sit in and wiggle the controls!
    As previously said, not everything in the BoB hall is of that period, being more representative of the types used. By spreading the aeroplanes around I believe they are right in raising visitor numbers to Cosford, and a change of airframes in an otherwise fairly stagnant display should be refreshing. The success of the WW1 in the air is set to continue with similar displays representative all periods of the RAF history, including past present and future, including more interactive activities to keep the attention of the young. The museum is not there as a recruiting tool for the military, however the vast majority of the funding does come from the RAF and it's subsidiaries. To look at this thread with fresh eyes makes me think that a few individuals that visit time and time again midweek would rather see the same exhibits they have done for 20+ years than new and fresh material to inspire the young?

    Times and interests move on, I would personally cut the management slack that they are updating the museum to appeal to the masses and not pandering to the desires of the hardcore enthusiast minority. I know I would rather take any child of mine to a museum that captivates them for the whole trip and interests me than one that captivates me and leaves a child bored never wanting to return.

    The aircraft you love will still be preserved, you are losing nothing, just think about the next generation for a moment - they don't necessarily want the same as you and they are there in far bigger numbers, often for different reasons.

    FB

    Quote Originally Posted by Creaking Door View Post
    Maybe not in the list of stakeholders but later in the document it describes the 'audience' of the museum(s):


    It is an interesting statement that the museum's 'core' audience is local. Surely that is a statement of failure on the part of the museum; the visitors to any museum should come because of what the museum is and not just because the museum is conveniently located? And free.
    Last edited by Fournier Boy; 1st June 2016 at 08:17. Reason: Missing word

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    Simple Pen Pusher old chap. I don't have time to trawl all the threads as I work and have limited time and the title is not as attention getting to me. The search facility would not help in this instance and obviously I am stupid.

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    The purpose of the entire museum is to exhibit the RAF history... so some over paid idiot decided to rip up the Battle of Britain collection to use the hall for an exhibition about the history of the RAF!

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    I am not a dinosaur FB and know the museum has to appeal to all not just enthusiasts. I am working more and more with education needs and the National Curriculum (NC). The Battle of Britain Hall, in its present form, provides a simple one stop shop for a subject on the NC. It showed where everything fitted what led to it and why it was important. i.e. context. The museum changes will make teaching that part of the NC more difficult.

    I think revamping the Hall would be a good idea, but removal/dispersion is not.

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    I should have added that the floor space of the hall was small compared to that of the rest of the museum. So there is plenty of room to display the rest of the history. The Battle of Britain is not only of importance to the RAF, but also to London, the whole of this country and world history. Without it going the way it did, the world would be different today.

    If there was an equivalent of world heritage sites applied to history shaping events, the BoB would be there.

    Before you all start, I am aware of other important crossroad events in history - but they are not the subject of this thread!

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    I think its quite difficult to make a judgement without knowing what it is being replaced with. Clearly the Battle of Britain cannot be ignored, so unless you know how they are going to interpret it for the future, you cannot condemn them out of hand. I have to confess, I agree with Fournier Boy to a point - the Battle of Britain is a subject for the Imperial War Museum rather than for a museum which concentrates on the history of the RAF, even if that was a defining moment.

    Unless museums like RAFM change, they will die. Hendon has spent a lot of time and effort on adding things of late, without really changing the core offer, which remains exactly as it was when I visited the place as a child. The overhaul is long overdue IMHO.


    Bruce

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    So in essence the RAFM Hendon will keep changing to accommodate the changing population of London? basically the museum is in the wrong place.
    Why be your own worse critic, that's what the forum is for.

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    My 'Sad RAF Museum' thread stirred up a lot of 'you were wrong' comments but I had that feeling of a museum running down
    even to closure. When you see an area being cleared and redecorated like there is a plan then it does at least promise something better. Perhaps they want to build a larger catering area that they can lease it to KFC or somebody.
    mmitch.

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    Or sell off what is a prime bit of real estate so yet more houses can be built and disperse the exhibits to other sites/storage...
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    I have mixed feelings about this.

    On one hand, the decision to break up the collection does seem absurd - the Battle is such a crucial phase in the history of the RAF that it richly deserves its own display. And that the fact that much of it took place over and around London and the South East seems to fit incredibly neatly into the "local interest" agenda. What better way to engage with local communities that trying to tell the story of London as a war zone, all of which happened in the remarkably recent past and yet seems so alien to someone growing up in the capital today?

    Still, I've always thought that the BoB display could do with starting again from scratch. No, I wasn't a fan of the Beacon (!) but at the very least the displays look tired, the layout of the hall in that awkward "U" shape seems clunky, and the complete lack of natural light made the whole thing seem pokey, however much or little they turned on the artifical lights. The glazing of the end by the Sunderland made a huge difference, why not keep the building in its current purpose, but put some clear panels in the walls, and glaze the other end? I also feel like they could use the opportunity to focus the collection a little bit-the disposal of the Jungmeister definitely seems like the right decision, and to me, the Bf110 would look so much more poignant and powerful displayed with the Lancaster. I'd also swap the Battle for the Blenheim, relocate the CR42 to a new display elsewhere about the Middle East and Western Desert, and have the Gladiator, Stuka and Battle in a separate space at the beginning, setting the scene by telling the story of the disasters and heroism leading up to Dunkirk. Then the remaining aircraft could be re-arranged to tell the story in a more focused way, with the small artefacts, medals, uniforms etc interspersed rather than hidden away in an attic that's always closed.

    There's a great opportunity here to turn the RAFM into something more widely accessible and improve the display of the exhibits; they look to have made an excellent start with the WW1 exhibition but I can't help feeling apprehensive that they might blow it.
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    I am so upset about this closure and removal of the exhibits in the BoB hall, you may as well close the Bomber Hall and just mix the whole lot up in a jumble.
    The BoB story need to be told and if the RAF museum feel fit not to tell it then the FEW will be outraged, the men laying in the channel, in holes in the ground around the UK and France, Friend and Foe a utter insult to the fallen, the ground crews. the ops girls the list could go on and what about MAFFETS Hurricane and the diorama what will happen to that, it tells a story.

    Some bloody jobs worth who has no interest in history with a bloody degree to prove they can do that job, rip the kin thing up your a disgrace to the memory of that crucial battle.
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    Sorry, but I couldn't disagree more.

    Firstly, what is the proposed use for the building? Anyone know?

    I strongly believe that no display of anything should ever be considered as sacrosanct. Changing with the times means you find different ways of interpreting the past, and there are many, many successful examples of that in museums all over the world. For myself, I feel the exhibits were tired and in desperate need of change. They also told only a partial story of the Battle - better interpretation could make it so much more real to people who will never have to go through what our forbears endured. The blind assumption that it will, by definition, be worse, or that it will dishonour the fallen is unfair and unkind.

    Remember, even if they are a little more in touch with their audience now, the story of the Battle of Britain is a Londoners story too.



    Bruce

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    Pleased to see various views expressed here. I have always been one for compromise. I also understand that change is sometimes required. When the Battle of Britain hall was funded and built there were lots of the Few around. I firmly believe that they could have done the next step in telling RAF history without closing the Hall.

    I believe it is not just the IWM who should cover the BoB but also the RAFM. It does sound like they may put a small display up in Cosford, which is good.
    That's my opinion and as someone very clever once said...I am the worlds greatest expert on my own opinion.


    I am with TA on this....it is a travesty and totally unnecessary to do this. It is weird that the pendulum that was to give us the hugely expensive BoB sculpture building has swung to the 'nothing' side.

    I still cannot get over how the BoB hall was the ideal delivery system of an NC requirement and now it has gone.
    I think I have spoken enough here on this....though knowing me I will say more. I am considering a petition, for what its worth. I am not an anorak, I am just very aware of the debt I owe and thought others were too.

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    Bruce, its not about the building its about what it is portraying a major battle that if had not been won thing could of been a whole lot different.

    The building was built as a tribute to the BoB was it not, yes it could do with a revamp but not disposal/dispersal
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmitch View Post
    Perhaps they want to build a larger catering area that they can lease it to KFC or somebody.
    mmitch.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce View Post
    Firstly, what is the proposed use for the building? Anyone know?
    I think it is to be the centrepiece of the 'Centenary of the Royal Air Force' and the new entrance to the whole museum site; a bit like the 'Milestones of Flight' used to be.

    And, yes, there is going to be a new and bigger restaurant.
    WA$.

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    Several things, replying to several posts.

    The building can hardly be described as a "tribute" its a tin shed, that for the last 20 years or so has had a name, and some dimly lit aircraft in it. Time for change.

    If I remember reading correctly the new use for the building will be :-
    1) as the main entrance to the whole RAF museum site.
    2) as a sort of time line and exhibition space. Hence some design consultant receiving XX million quid. Expect fancy lights and talking heads.
    3) as an education space, something to do schools science and engineering ? We might not like it but guess it brings in extra funding.
    4) all this is for 1st April 2018, so they better get moving.
    5) question is what happens in 2019 ? Expect the 'management' rubbing their hands over the prospect of a big open venue for quilt show ect.

    I am more concerned by the removal of aircraft from Hendon to Cosford. We can all have our favourite aircraft but to move signification types from the Hendon, where the vast majority of international visitors go, to the Midlands, is unfair. The Defiant is the sole survivor of type and deserves to be at Hendon as it is a RAF aircraft. As with most collections we can not show them all, and some of the German types may well be better displayed at Cosford, or indeed the IWM Duxford. Reports by the new CEO early this year indicated that some exhibits could be loaned out, the Typhoon has already gone to Canada, how long before the Gladiator goes to Belguim, or the Me109G goes to Germany. Losing these, all be it temporarily should be of more concern than the name of the tin shed they live in.

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    This old fogey as an 8 year old had a grandstand view of the BoB, I am alarmed that the modern generation have no feeling for history and do not want to hurt anyones feelings. Typical civil service lack of understanding.
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    I remember talking about this, may even have posted it here.

    Many museums in the USA have an associated restaurant, this maybe run by the museum or it may be run by a private operator / franchise. But why should they only be open when the museum is open ? Say RAFM Hendon closes at 5.00pm, why, with correct local authority approval, could the restaurant not be open until 11.00pm The RAFM gains publicity as the pub / restaurant with a load of airplanes next door, and the eating / drinking public visit again when the musuem is open. RAFM occasionally have open evenings, extend this with a meal / entertainment package and it is something people will pay for. Corporate entertainment loves these sort of places. If in 2019 the reformed BoB hangar becomes a money maker for RAFM then it is a good thing. Lets just hope the been counters do not throw away the aircraft in the process.

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