Historical aircraft at our local museum.

Mix Mornings with Nick Hazell

Derek Lamb, one of the volunteers at the De Havilland Aircraft Museum, talks to us about what we can see there and the facilities available there to local organisations

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We’re midway between London Colby, so that’s what I call Saverson to the big shopping area, plaza, and then South Mims, and we’re on what I used to call the old A5 road. So we’re about a mile due south, due southeast actually, of the… the big Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s shopping area. And sort of parallel to the M25. And parallel to the M25. And we are signposted from that shopping center with the brown tourist signs. And we’re also signed off the main road with one of those tourist signs. Right. Now, we’re sat up in the mezzanine here in a large, it isn’t exactly a hangar, is it? Or is it a hangar, a large building? We call it a hangar. This is the Jeffrey de Havilland hangar. that was opened in 2019 with a lot of funds that we raised but also a lot of funds courtesy of the National Lottery. And part of the bid was that it wouldn’t just be an aircraft hanger, it would have facilities for the community. So we’re sitting in the methamene floor here which is used for parties and receptions and school trips and so on. It gives you a wonderful view. Yes, it does. On to down, you know, with the Comet 1 jet, a chipmunk, over in the distance there is a rapid, a de Havilland rapid. Marvelous view. And as we walked up here, of course, we came past some committee rooms, which again, are used for conferences and, well, any event that requires a smaller room. And we have catering up here. and we are also licensed. So it’s important that we get this wider attention, not just those who are niche aviation enthusiasts. Would you count yourself as a niche aviation enthusiast? I’d count myself as a niche something, yes. But yeah, probably. Yeah. And a lot of the work here is done by volunteers, isn’t it? Actually, all of it is done by volunteers. We have something like 200 volunteers here. Our general manager is paid. else is a volunteer. And I would say to any of your listeners who think, oh well, you know, if only I knew more about aircraft, I’d put my hand up. But you don’t need to be. I mean, if you have certain skills with aircraft equipment, well great. But you know, to run a place like this, IT is important, finance and record keeping, we have our own cafe, so any experience in catering, If you’ve had a working life, you’ve got transferable skills that we will benefit from. Give us a sense of the range of aircraft that you can see here, because we can see some of them in this hangar, can’t we, but then there’s some outside. Yeah, we pretty much, through our 22 exhibits, cover almost the whole range of de Havilland’s, except for the First World War. They were starting to make aircraft during the First World War. Now we don’t have any of those, but from the 1920s onwards we have some of their into war aircraft by planes and so on, of which the repeat that you see over there, which has been undergoing restoration for 30 years, not continuously, but that’s just being finished. And then of course we come on into, well I suppose where de Havilland really made their name during the war, with the Mosquito. fighter bomber which was developed here at Salisbury Hall in secret away from the main factory at Hatfield and we’ve actually got the prototype here which is what 80 odd years old now and the story goes that when… Walter Goldsmith bought Salisbury Hall, which he would have driven past. He was canny enough to realise that he could get some money from the Ministry of Works, as it was in the 50s, to help renovate the house. And they said, well, if you open it up, you’ll certainly get some money from us. So he was looking for things to augment the house and came upon, so the story goes, a mosquito on a wall, a lavatory wall, allegedly. It’s too good a story not to repeat. And he then asked around and of course with the factory just over the way, he got his first couple of exhibits which included the prototype de Havilland mosquito. And then from there you move into the jet age with and Sea Vixen right through to our post war jet aircraft with the Trident and then finally the last aircraft we made in any numbers at Hatfield which was the 146 passenger jet and we have one of those out there and others as well. Yeah, travelling on a Trident and on a 146 actually. Yeah. The 146 was a lovely aircraft. It was, it was yeah and of course it did well. where there was short takeoff and landing. So here, I think it was the mainstay of the city airport when that first opened. Yes, yeah, I think so. Well, so now if somebody wants to come down and see all these fantastic aircraft, when can they come, how does it work? Right, we’re open six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.30 onwards we close at five. There’s plenty of parking here, but if you want to do the right thing, we welcome cyclists and we get a few. And also if you want to catch the 84 bus, again the stop’s right outside and there’s a quarter of a mile walk up, a quite pleasant drive to reach us. Fantastic, and we can find where you are and all the details I guess by Googling… Google www. and all the details are given there.

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