Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a grant of nearly £2 million to the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in the 21st Century Project, a significant investment in Hertfordshire’s aviation heritage. The museum, at Salisbury Hall, London Colney, applied for the grant three years ago to enable it to build a large new hangar to provide covered space for its exhibits and a range of community and education facilities.
After learning of the National Lottery funding decision, the museum chairman Alan Brackley said: “The Trustees of the museum are delighted that the HLF has awarded them £1.9 million to build the new hangar.
“Thanks to the money raised by the National Lottery players the project will not only safely display several important aircraft exhibits inside the new building away from the rigours of the British weather, including the DH Comet 1a, the world’s first passenger jet airliner, and DH Sea Vixen, but it will be able to offer the local community an exciting venue for meetings, conferences, parties, learning and other social events.”
The National Lottery funding will enable the museum to move on to the next phase of its development programme and construction work on the new hangar is expected to begin in July and completed in 2019. Planning permission for the project was granted by Hertsmere Council in 2016.
“The Museum needs to fund-raise a further £250,000, before we get the National Lottery’s permission to start the building works,” added Mr Brackley, “so all support is very welcome and donations made through our website or at the museum.”
The museum, which attracts several thousands of visitors each year, concentrates on the many types of aircraft and engines built by the de Havilland Aircraft Company at its Hatfield factory in Hertfordshire. It is based in the grounds of Salisbury Hall, a Tudor mansion, which during the Second World War was used by de Havilland as its secret design centre for its ‘Wooden Wonder’ Mosquito twin-engine multi-role aircraft. The prototype Mosquito is one of three examples of the type on display, more than can be seen at any other museum in the world.
Since the museum was formed by the then owner of historic Salisbury Hall, Walter Goldsmith, and its small hangar opened to the public in 1959 it has acquired more than 20 iconic de Havilland aircraft. This led to the construction of a second, larger hangar which was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1984. Acquisitions and donations of further aircraft were soon to make more covered display and restoration space a priority.
“We are a working museum where visitors can watch restoration work being carried out and can get up close to the aircraft. It is run by volunteers, some of whom were among the many thousands of people who worked for de Havilland,” said Mr Brackley. www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk