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

  1. #31
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    I seem to recall some mention of making RAFM Hendon an open space, so that may well come about.
    Why be your own worse critic, that's what the forum is for.

  2. #32
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    I'm one of the older generation just shy of 70, when I visit Hendon and the B of B hall I like the principle players all there on hand, so I can judge one against the other compare the aircraft sizes etc. its a story so you need everything there at hand. If on a school visit little Johnnie says to teacher" my great granddad mended Spitfires after the Germans broke them, which aircraft are they sir". So teacher tries to explain that is the Spitfire but you will have to go to Cosford or so and so to see the nasty hun aircraft that caused your great granddad to work over repairing it...

    regards,
    jack...

    this post may contain grammatical errors...

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by CADman View Post
    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.
    Is Hendon still free? if these get moved to Duxford you are looking at a large price to get in to see these.

    The whole idea of having the aircraft from the BoB period is to see them together ,where else can you see a Stuka,Heinkel,JU88 ,Me110,Me 109 etc in one place telling one large story of the RAF,probably the most famous part of the RAF.

  4. #34
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    And where at Duxford would they go? Little enough room for their own exhibits.

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  5. #35
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    I 've just got back from Hendon, not been there for two years or so.

    Most of the museum has been improved over that time but the Battle of Britain Hall, never my favourite part of the museum, is just a mess. I think they should get on with the changes, they can only bring improvement.

    On a lighter side I picked up a second copy of Thetford's German Aircraft of World War 1 for £15! On the open market it's worth at last twice that.

    The book apart I had a good afternoon, the changes to the museum have improved it a lot, and there were lots of visitors which can only be a good thing too.

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  6. #36
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    Did everyone rush to criticise the IWM at Duxford after the rebuild of the Super Super hangar as much?

    I have yet to look back for comments about the Cold War thing they builtt at Cosford

    As for a refresh the FAA Museum and the MoAF probably could do with a refresher...

    Just a tuppence worth

    Duck


  7. #37
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    I would not wish to be seen as an apologist for the RAF Museum. I have my own issues with the way they do things and have personally had, or been party to, several major differences of opinion over the years. Before you ask, no, I will not go into detail. On the other hand, for the most part the individual members of staff are wonderful. Under-resourced, overworked and overstretched, but pretty damned good all the same.

    I am as perturbed as the next man that the BoB Hall is to be closed, 'repurposed' or whatever. I find the 'vision statment' in the strategy document slightly chilling. I can't argue with their wish to "engage, inspire and connect", or to be "relevant, friendly, inclusive, respected, collaborative". Being "secure" would seem to be obvious. "Entrepreneurial" bothers me significantly: they are there to tell a story. Hopefully not at a loss, but entrepreneurship carries connotations of 'profit at any cost' which I don't think sit well with their apparent raison d'etre. Maybe I'm just becoming an old f**t, but I don't want museums to be exciting. 'Not boring', certainly, but 'exciting' is another word that carries connotations of deliberately overdoing things.

    However, it seems to me that there are some alternative viewpoints that need to be put here, to ensure we have a balanced argument.

    The 'core audience' of any museum is surely those who come back again and again. Whilst you might expect the majority of your visitors, in numerical terms, to be tourists and interested people from further away, for the most part they will visit just the once. They will come simply because you are there, not because of this or that new exhibition or exhibit, although either of those might be the reason they visit now rather than next year or last. Your returning audience will broadly fall in to three groups:
    > Locals, for whom a 'friendly and inclusive' museum will become part of the local landscape.
    > Schools, from a wider, but still generally fairly local area, but it will be the school - maybe the teachers - who are the returning entity, with different kids each time.
    > Enthusiasts - including veterans - who will feel, for one reason or another, a draw to the place and what it represents.

    The RAF and it's precursors have more than a hundred years of history already. It is a rich and complex history, intertwined with other British and foreign organisations at various points, and spanning the globe. You simply can't tell that in three hours or less. What you can hope to do is to plant the hooks that draw people back for a deeper look at this or that aspect later. Whether They are coming back because (Great-)Grandpa flew Spitfires or (Great-)Grandma delivered Lancasters, or because a more distant relative flew Vimys in the Middle East, or because Daddy flew Phantoms or just because their imagination has been sparked, it has to be those people who you try hardest to connect with. Fail them and you loose something tangible. Fail those who would not come back anyway, and what happens? They don't come back. Yes, you have to worry about reputation, about your ratings on Trip Advisor or whatever, but if you want to convince people to give you money one of the key things to talk about is how many people come back.

    Yes, the Battle of Britain is an important part of British and RAF history. As a school governor, I feel I should have more sympathy with the idea that the BoB Hall should stay as it is because of the National Curriculum, but I'm afraid I don't. Schools hundreds of miles from Hendon apparently teach modern history perfectly acceptably without a visit to the museum. It's a 'nice to have' in that regard, nothing more. If it were not so, then there would be a bun-fight going on between the MoD and the DfE over funding. (Perhaps there is, but I haven't seen any mention of it...)

    There are plenty of other aspects of RAF history that have more immediacy and/or more chance of engagement with any definable audience, than the Battle of Britain, no matter how important it is . There are the two World Wars, of course, but it's not just about them. Thirteen years recent involvment in Afganistan; the Gulf Wars (bet they keep quiet about those until everyone's read the Chilcott report, but they're important and recent just the same); Bosnia and other 'peacekeeping' activities; humanitarian and disater relief operations in various parts of the world. Going back a bit further, there are record-breaking activities (more a Cosford display, perhaps); our presence in the Far East and Middle East, and how well (or not) we played out the withdrawal from each; the RAF's involvement in developing air mail and passenger routes across the British Empire... These and many more aspects could stand their own equally fascinating display, perhaps occupying all of a hall that size. Unless funding can be found for another hall or two in which to do those, why would we keep one big hall with the same display ad infinitum, no matter how good or important it is?

  8. #38
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    I am shocked by this news but thinking about it the BofB halls needs a revamp. Although the BofB was the RAF's finest hour, and it needs to be featured,does it make sense to have a 1/4 of the museum(not floor space but buildings) dedicated to a conflict that lasted a few months out of a hundred years of history? I'm at the younger end of the enthusiast visitors (46) and for those younger they will have little personal reference to WW2 let alone the BofB. My dad was bombed out in the blitz ,aged 1 but people in their 20's/30's and younger are unlikely to have living relatives from WW2.
    So how about a BofB corner rather than a whole building? This may sound like heresy but why not return the likes of the CR42, He111 (not a BofB aircraft after all) to their home land? This would leave Spitfire, Hurricane, Gladiator, Me109 and JU88 in a Bob exhibition? In return the RAFM would have funds to fill some of its gaps.
    Away from the BoB collection Hendon completely omits Transport Command. Foe me a Dakota is a must for any revamped Hendon. Would also been good to see more of the non-European theaters of WW2. If only somebody knew where we could get a desert air force survivor?!

  9. #39
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    My immediate reaction was "preposterous", but then I sat down and decided maybe it's a good thing to change the BoB hall.
    It's dusty, dark, tired and worn. Only five of the aircraft are representative of actual Bob aircraft in my opinion. The Stuka and 111 would be more suited to a Russian Front diorama and the 110 and 88 Bomber Command Hall (and what about a Bomber Command hall?).
    Providing the battle is still represented in the main hall I think it would be refreshing to have a new exhibit.
    Maybe a Gulf War and Afghanistan setting?
    We seem to forget it's an RAF museum not a WW2 museum.

    Come to think of it most museums are WW2 focussed. Perhaps time to move on?
    Last edited by hampden98; 1st June 2016 at 18:15.

  10. #40
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    The changes are in progress and not finished,perhaps it is fair to let the plans settle in. I like the idea of exhibits of aircraft size move across the Uk and even overseas.The RAF museum should not be considered in isolation in the Uk,there was a time in the 1960s when very few museums had displays of aircraft and artefacts.In fact the RAF museum was overwhelmed with donations ,turned items down, and as a result other places became better places to view certain aspects in detail such as the displays at Newark ,Doncaster,East Kirkby,Kent Bof B museum,Duxford.

    As for young people not being interested I think that is not 100 percent true,many play games with graphics showing air battles and take part in re enactment groups,join cadets and later the regular forces.

    We are fortunate(at the moment) to have a very active Uk museum scene and changing displays do help get items out of storage.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotavia View Post
    As for young people not being interested I think that is not 100 percent true,many play games with graphics showing air battles and take part in re enactment groups,join cadets and later the regular forces.
    My nephews are all interested in WW2 and the Bob. They get this from me (:-)), games like War Thunder and films such as Fury, Red Tails and, well the black and white ones I lend them!
    We have to accept that time moves forward and the BoB will not get the same attention as more modern exploits as it passes into distant history.
    But it should still be represented.

  12. #42
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    "This may sound like heresy but why not return the likes of the CR42, He111 (not a BofB aircraft after all) to their home land?" do not give the CEO any ideas !!!!

    With the budget for the redevelopement and the relocation of aircraft I am sure a simple exhibition space could have been erected at at Hendon, adjacent to the the BoB hangar, for the propose of a Hundredth Anniversary display.

  13. #43
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    Has anyone bothered to write to the curator asking, what is the plan ?

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by CADman View Post
    "This may sound like heresy but why not return the likes of the CR42, He111 (not a BofB aircraft after all) to their home land?" do not give the CEO any ideas !!!!

    With the budget for the redevelopement and the relocation of aircraft I am sure a simple exhibition space could have been erected at at Hendon, adjacent to the the BoB hangar, for the propose of a Hundredth Anniversary display.
    This thought also crossed my mind.

  15. #45
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    It's been a couple of years since I visited Hendon. The BoB Hall has always, in my mind, both struggled to tell the story and display the artefacts effectively. I appreciate that it's my hobby horse but Hendon has always seemed to be a WW2 and FJ centric museum. The RAF does a superb job telling the tale of the BoB with the BBMF. A recent visit to the Tank Museum showed how far behind Hendon is; a superb, well lit atrium and compelling displays (esp the WW1 section). Yes, there were also rows of tanks, but as a Iraq/Afghan Veteran the way they had recreated a FOB was genuinely moving. At Bovington the curator told me that they couldn't agree on what tanks should be in the atrium - so they told the resident historian to "pick 30 seminal tanks and fill it up" - a great move with some eclectic choices. This could be an opportunity for the RAF to get some important aircraft to Hendon; C-47, real CH-47, SAR Sea King, Shackleton/Nimrod and C-130 - all of which would help tell the RAF's story in different ways. It would also enable some interesting comparisons; I love the thought of the Ju88 and Me110 in the Bomber Command Hall - a new display telling the history of Electronic Warfare could be built around it.

  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Green View Post
    Has anyone bothered to write to the curator asking, what is the plan ?
    I guess it would of been nice for the curator to of published the future plans or has he? probably not..as up until recently as far as we were all concerned the aircraft were being stripped for inspection.. thats what i had the opinion of anyway.
    Looking at the strategic plans there dosnt appear to be anything in Great detail reference the Battle of Britain Hall..
    Last edited by hawker1966; 1st June 2016 at 18:48.

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evalu8ter View Post
    It would also enable some interesting comparisons; I love the thought of the Ju88 and Me110 in the Bomber Command Hall - a new display telling the history of Electronic Warfare could be built around it.
    Yup and they could convert and repaint the B-17 to represent a 100 group example.

  18. #48
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    Perhaps a subject for a seperate thread, but I was surprised when my BBMF Supporters Club pack arrived a week or two ago and it had "Royal Air Force Memorial Flight" on the front. Is the BofB now considered politically incorrect by MoD? Is there a BBMF re-branding soon to take place?

    With regards to the main subject, we will see how things play out, but it would be strange if the museum of the RAF didn't place a fairly strong emphasis on the BofB. Being history's only pure air battle, it stands as an example of the reasons to have an independent air force. I'm confused as to why some have said that coverage of the BofB is more the territory of the IWM.
    "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease." Sergei Sikorsky

  19. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Green View Post
    Has anyone bothered to write to the curator asking, what is the plan ?
    It was published earlier this year, I will see if I can find it. Before that there was also some consultation like questionnaire asking for ideas.

    There have bee several interviews in Flypast / Aeroplane covering the changes. Sadly what is written, whilst technically correct, often appears to be worst in real life.

  20. #50
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    Can you imagine an exhibition about Trafalgar or Waterloo being treated like this? I would prefer to see the Battle of France, Belgium, Poland represented. A number of significant types would represent everyone involved

  21. #51
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    Couldn't agree more Tony, I've spent many visits there and its a totally unique display to see examples of types that were in the battle in one major hall - HOW could that not be a major learning experience that makes (dare I say it) sense for both adults and kids to learn from? Many museums would give a lot to have such a major one-off display and some of the other crits in the past like swapping original items off for repro ones haven't helped. This BoB Hall though is a major loss to people and I'm not interested in seeing a revise display in a helter/skelter-ice-cream cone that just indulges an architect for a nice fat fee.

    Its similar to the disgraceful clear-out of major civil and navy ship models from the National Maritime Museum that we could see for free when were kids, we now have to go to Chatham and in some cases pay to see them - a total loss to local people in Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs with so much local history of shipbuilding and of seeing these unique items in this national museum that has gone over too much to families and pirate play rooms- "We don't do that anymore" I was told after complaining and asking what had happened to so many displays lost to the area today.

  22. #52
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    Why would you keep it? Besides adding to it with other related displays, posters and memorabilia I would say clearly because it was THE turning point in the early part of the war - but chiefly, because as Churchill said before it began, "Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization…" -

    You can't get a more crucial reason for a display that that. I would say that it distinguishes it as something that should be kept together as it is the reason why we are all here today uploading. The development of other aspects of RAF history should wait or be planned elsewhere - when talking of immediacy and the need to engage with people of today that is all very well, but perhaps its up to more designers to make the BoB displays more revamped and fresh in their appeal. Its importance cannot be overstated.

  23. #53
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    Royal Air Force Memorial Flight
    That is its official name and has been so since the Flight's formation (Please tell me where it says Battle of Britain on the unit badge (it doesn't BTW)).
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  24. #54
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    I'm at a bit of a loss to see that some think we don't need the BoB commemorated. Each to their own I guess. I would like to see training command and coastal command better represented. I also would like to see more made of RW. But there's room to do that, especially if cosford and Hendon share the task.

  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fournier Boy View Post
    Their aim is to tell this story to little Jimmy who has a maximum attention span of 3 hours
    Crikey, little Jimmy must be exceptional amongst his peers. In my experience, three minutes, rather than three hours, is closer to the norm!

  26. #56
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    I've only been lucky enough to get to the RAFM once but my opinion was that after the Graham-White hanger mainly due to the aircraft, the Battle of Britain hall was the highlight. Yes it needed an update but it was a superb view into a key moment of British history. Not wanting to be too topical but I do wonder if the very name makes it politically incorrect

  27. #57
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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.

    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!
    Hi Tony,

    That's dissapointing to hear that the BoB Hall is to be closed. I had read that some of the airframes were to be conserved and some relocated.

    Like you, the BoB Hall is a long term highlight of Hendon for me, and has certainly been a memorable occasion for my young family. Yes I agree, after a number of years, every display should be re-freshed but if this particular one represents the RAF's finest hour, as well as a significant point in our Nations history then it should be kept in some form or another. One could argue that if the Battle had not been "won", an invasion would have been more likely to follow, and the war could have had a very different outcome.

    We can all have our opinions on what the museum could do next, and I'm sure there is probably not a single correct answer. I would personally like more themed displays, like grouping types per era or theatre of use, with supporting ground equipment. How better way than to show the HISTORY of the RAF?

    What I hope the museum does, is not make everything too digital and modern. These aircraft belong to a different time, and although information screens may attract little jonny, it does so at the expense of not ever bothering to look at the airframe usually!
    Last edited by TempestV; 2nd June 2016 at 08:11.

  28. #58
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    !Did everyone rush to criticise the IWM at Duxford after the rebuild of the Super Super hangar as much?"

    Yes, in fact it's still worth pointing out that they spent £29m on a building that was perfectly ok, and at the very least didn't blow away at the first sign of winter.

    There is much in common between the two museums, (and not ironically aeroplanes) they have both lost their way over the years, and have had a turn over of "management" and have become more corporate (as this would appear to be the only thing management know how to do) both have or are going to dispose of Key types of A/C that could help tell a story.

    The main difference, is that DX isn't free, and doesn't pander to a local population; to slightly mis quote someone who runs an event that I take part in, "when the admission fee is so low, you have no control over type of people that come through the door", so ( in the case of RAFM Hendon)you are basing your business model on artificially supported ground, i.e the govt subsidy to museums, that may change at any time; I know from discussions with friends there, that the car parking charge was the only way to make ends meet, and still receive the subsidy.

    I believe it is very naïve to think that the obviously transient population of London is you key target audience/market.
    Last edited by stuart gowans; 2nd June 2016 at 08:57.
    Why be your own worse critic, that's what the forum is for.

  29. #59
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    Interesting that many share a concern about the overuse of electronic displays and gimmicks. I share the concern about this.There is a trend in how people behave at places and events.They are seduced by the novelty of smartphones and tablets and as a result can miss the reality around them. If any from the museum/location read these forums i hope they can keep in mind that the equipment and people (who gave time and lives) are what need highlighting.In practical terms highlighting actually can be taken as using a non destructive form of lighting.

  30. #60
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    THE thing that was most moving for a lot of people I have spoken to about the BoB Hall experience, was the simplicity of its execution. Atmospheric lighting, narrative story and sound effects. Your imagination did the rest. The aircraft were the focal point, and there wasn't a CGI digital display screen in sight! I'm all for the modern world, but it has to be sympathetically used.

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