Friday, 13 February 2015

Avro Heritage Museum

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

The British Aerospace site at Woodford Airfield in Cheshire closed a couple of years ago. Woodford was Avro's company airfield and the birthplace of many famous aeroplanes such as the Avro Lancaster. All the Vulcans, Nimrods, 748s, ATPs and many other types were built here; it's a historic site with a rich history.
This part of Cheshire hasn't resonated to the music of a Lancaster's Rolls Royce Merlin engines or been deafened and vibrated on a daily basis by the earth-shaking thunder of a Vulcan's four Olympus turbojets for many decades now, and the later Woodford products such as the 146, ATP, and RJX were easier on the ear.
But as the flight sheds and runways vanish under the bulldozer to eventually be replaced by yet more housing estates it's important that the heritage of this historic place is remembered. BAe are funding the creation of an aviation museum on the site. 
Artist's impression of the new Avro Heritage Museum building
The museum building makes use of the former airfield fire station, extensively renovated and modified. That work is coming to an end soon and the team can then begin to fit the building out with artifacts and storyboards ready for the museum's opening later this summer.
Adjacent to the new museum building, which is on the south side of the airfield where the flight sheds used to be, will be Avro Vulcan B2 XM603. This aeroplane has been at Woodford for many years now, and I well remember sheltering under its massive delta wing during the all too frequent rain showers at various Woodford air shows (so it was a long time ago!).
 Vulcan XM603 at a Woodford air show while a still-airworthy example of this fabulous aeroplane gives a display. Some scattered fair weather Cu clouds are evident, but no need to use that big wing as an umbrella that day.

XM603's paintwork has deteriorated since the above picture was taken many years ago, and there is corrosion present. The aircraft will be restored to static exhibition standard and located adjacent to the museum, and will retain its white 'anti-flash' cold war colour scheme the V-bombers carried when their primary role was to deliver Britain's nuclear deterrent (now the job of the Trident submarine fleet). Thankfully the cold war did not heat up, and as we know that dreadful scenario did not come about, though it came close to happening at least once. The deterrent worked. 

Inside the museum it is planned for visitors to access the cockpit of sister Vulcan B2, XM602. This is just a nose section, not a complete aircraft, so can be fitted into the museum building. 

Inside the museum's Vulcan nose section, formerly XM602. All the Vulcan's were, of course, assembled at Woodford. 

The museum web site is HERE. At present it displays the picture at the top of this post, but nearer the opening date it should be a fully populated site.


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