Old Warden, July 14th, 1997
This section is laid out in two pages. This page describes the first two hangars we explored at the home of the Collection - the next page looks at the other other two hangars on public exhibit.
We called at the Shuttleworth Collection on our last morning in the UK, before flying home to New Zealand. We were a bit late leaving Cambridge after chatting with the Hostess of our B&B - then we stopped in Biggleswade to find a Post Office so we could offload some of our excess baggage. But we had no trouble finding the Collection as it was well signposted from the A1 . . . although some of those narrow Bedfordshire roads were starting to worry me . . . . However, the country setting is superb!
I believe Shuttleworth must be one of the best 'living museums' in the world as all the aircraft are kept in flying condition, and most are operated regularly. It is certainly the oldest such museum, with the trust dating back to the 1940's. I've wanted to visit for many years, and I was really disappointed that I couldn't make it to any of the 'flying days' while in the UK (which were day I arrived, the day I was at a wedding, and the weekend after I left . . .). However, I did get to see the SE5a, Bristol Fighter, Gladiator, and Sea Hurricane fly at Duxford, so the visit was still really a dream come true for me!
The site is a collection of venerable looking Hangars/Sheds to one side of a grass runway area. Entering the buildings, the first aircraft we saw are shown above. Richard Shuttleworth's first aircraft - A 1928 DH60X Moth (G-EBWD), which he purchased in 1932. Next to it is a 1909 Bleriot Type XI (BAPC 3 /G-AANG), which was part of the Bleriot school at Hendon in 1910. Richard Shuttleworth acquired the aircraft in 1935, and it may now be the oldest aircraft in flying condition in the world. Alongside the aircraft are two cars - a 1900 Panhard Levassor (not shown), formerly owned by Lord Rothschild, which was the first car in the collection - and a 1937 Railton, which was one of Richard Shuttleworth's last purchases.
We started with the Workshop Hangar containing some of the aircraft which we had seen perform a few days earler at Duxford. Shown above are the Gloster Gladiator (L8032/G-AMRK) and the Spitfire Mk.Vc (AR501/G-ASII). The Gladiator, acquied in 1960 represents the RAF's last combat biplane, and is also the sole airworthy example (until the Fighter Collection get their's into the air). The Spitfire was acquired in 1961, and like many others was restored for use in the film 'Battle of Britain'. Today it flies in the colours of a former operator, 310 (Czech) Squadron. Also seen in the workshop are a 1934 Hawker (Afghan) Hind (as K5414/G-AENP) acquired in 1971 which is currently minus its powerplant, and a 1931 Desoutter 1 (G-AAPZ) which although owned by Richard Shuttleworth since 1935, has been undergoing major refurbishment recently. On the way to the next hangar, we passed a room containing a training exhibit - a Link Trainer.
The next hangar contained a mix of World War I and World War II aircraft. Shown above are some of the World War I examples. The Avro 504K (H5199/G-ACNB) was built in 1918, and acquired by the collection in 1958. The LVG CVI (7198-18/G-AANJ) is a very rare example of a WWI German aircraft - and it flies! The SE5a (F904/G-EBIA) is even older and was built in 1917. The Sopwith Triplane (N6290/G-BOCK) is a reproduction of the 1916 aircraft, but accurate enough to be an original although completed in 1990. The Sopwith Pup (3004-14/G-EBKY) is original, although built in 1918 as a 2-seat Dove, and reconverted to Pup standard after being acquired in 1936. The Bristol F.2b Fighter (D8096/G-AEPH) was built in 1918 too late to see wartime service, but was operated by the RAF. It joined the collection in 1952.
The pre-1920 aircraft were my main interest (we don't have anything like that in New Zealand), but some of the other military aircraft were still fascinating! The gyrocopter is an Avro built 'Rota' (K4235/G-AHMJ), a 1934 example of the Cierva C.30a which was bought by Richard Shuttleworth before WWII but subsequently impressed, and passed through several owners before being reacquired in 1954. The Hawker Tomtit (K1786/G-AFTA) was the last of its type built and is the sole survivor, having been part of the collection since 1956. The DH80a Puss Moth (G-AEOA) has been on loan to the collection since 1978. The Avro Tutor (K3215/G-AHSA) built in 1933 and acquired in 1959 is another sole-survivor. The 1941 vintage Canadian built Hurricane (Z7015/G-BKTH) was converted to Sea Hurricane 1b standard in Britain. It served until 1943 before becoming an instructional airframe, in which use it continued until acquired by the Collection in 1961.
There were several other hangars open which are described on the next page.
© 1997 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved