Dowding & WWI: The Making of a Commander

Bentley Priory Museum are thrilled to have secured a £48,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a World War I project, which will explore the WWI experiences of Royal Flying Corps pilot Hugh Dowding, and how his experiences shaped his convictions and leadership as Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain in 1940 – based at RAF Bentley Priory, Stanmore.

Without Dowding’s leadership during the Battle of Britain, the outcome for Britain could have been very different, with Nazi invasion of Britain highly probable.

The project will be delivered in 2017, 100 years after Dowding returned from flying at the Western Front to Britain, to support the training of pilots who were being sent to the Western Front.  Due to his first hand aerial experience over the trenches, Dowding campaigned for critical improvements in pilot training and well-being during both WWI – and later during WWII.

Director, Eleanor Pulfer-Sharma: ‘Dowding’s technological vision and leadership during the Battle of Britain made him one of Britain’s most important historical figures. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s grant will be invaluable to improving historical understanding of how World War I impacted Dowding and the connections between World War I and World War II – which are often explored in isolation.’’

The project will make this important heritage accessible through a temporary exhibition, WWI resources for Schools, and family activities during the summer and October school holidays.

BBC Celebrity Antiques Road Trip visit to Bentley Priory Museum

It was a privilege to welcome Blue Peter’s Sarah Greene and Peter Duncan to Bentley Priory Museum in July 2016, as part of their Celebrity Antiques Road Trip adventures.

Museum Trustee Natasha Brown thoroughly enjoyed showing aviation enthusiast Sarah Greene and antiques expert Catherine Southon around the Museum, highlighting the pivotal role that Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding and The Dowding System played during the Battle of Britain.

The episode aired on BBC on Wednesday 14 December- if you missed it or want to watch it again, it is currently available on Iplayer:

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b085z8kl

 

Bentley Priory Museum is awarded £1 million libor funding to enhance learning and access

Bentley Priory Museum is delighted to announce that it has been awarded £1 million from the Armed Forces Covenant (Libor) funding.

The funding will enable the Museum to significantly enhance its Learning Centre and resources, aiding its development as an important and inspiring educational environment to support the learning of school children and families.

The Chair of the Museum’s governing Trust, Sir Brian Burridge, has expressed the Museum’s appreciation for the funding:

”The Trust is very grateful to have been allocated this significant grant for our museum from the Libor fund. Given that Bentley Priory is the place from where the Battle of Britain was won, we are now ready to embark on an exciting project to bring the inspirational stories of the time to the widest possible audience and thus ensure that future generations are aware of its significance in the Nation’s history.’

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, has congratulated the Museum: ‘This funding will allow the museum to grow into an all-encompassing educational environment, teaching the values of leadership and comradeship, as well as displaying the technology and skills involved in the Dowding System and the important role of women in the war.”

75th Anniversary Events, September 2015

 

75th Anniversary Logo

 

75th Anniversary Events, September 2015  

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, we will be increasing the Museum’s opening days and hosting a series of events and throughout September 2015.

 

 

Sundays in September: Museum Opening, 10am-5pm 

The Museum is usually closed on Sundays, but will open on Sunday 6 September, Sunday 13 September, Sunday 20 September and Sunday 27 September. IMG_3799_990W80

Please note, advance tickets are needed for Sunday 20 September due to performances of a new one act musical ‘Fighter Command and the Battle for Britain and will be available from 3 August.

Admission tickets on 6, 13 and 27 September can be purchased on the day of your visit at the Museum’s Reception.

Tuesday 15 September: Historic Flypast (Museum open 10am-5pm) 

Boultbee Flight Academy’s historic flypast on ‘Battle of Britain Day’, Tuesday 15 September include plans for 6 fighter aircraft to fly over Bentley Priory Museum.

The 15th of  September 1940 was an important day in the Battle, when the Luftwaffe co-ordinated large bombing raids over London and the South of England, but lost a significant amount of aircraft.

To commemorate 75 years since Battle of Britain day in 1940, Boultbee Academy have organised for 40 Spitfires and Hurricanes to take part in a historic flypast.

The aircraft will all take off from Goodwood, before flying different routes around the South East of England. Details of the routes can be found here, with timings to be confirmed soon.http://www.battleofbritainday.co.uk/#!routes/c1

‘Fighter Command and the Battle for Britain’: A new one act musical commissioned for the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

'Fighter Command & the Battle for Britain'

‘Fighter Command and the Battle for Britain’ will be performed 6 times over 3 days by Tonic choir and young people from St John’s School, Grimsdyke School and Harrow Youth Choir.

Advance tickets are required for all performances, and will not be available on the day. Tickets will go on sale on 3 August 2015 at 10.30am from the Museum’s Reception or 020 8950 5526.

 

Saturday 19 September, 11am & 12.30pm performances: Tonic Choir & students from St John’s School

Sunday 20 September, 11am & 12.30pm performances: Tonic Choir & students from Grimsdyke School

Saturday 26 September, 11am-12.30pm performances: Tonic Choir & young people from Harrow Youth Choir

The musical has been composed by Philip Barnett and Bryan Kesselman and funded by the Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Advance Tickets: Saturday 19 September, Sunday 20 September & Saturday 26 September

Spitfire Stained GlassOn 19, 20 & 26 September Advance Tickets are needed. 

On all other days that the Museum is open, admission can be purchased on the day of your visit from the Museum’s Reception. 

There will be 3 ticket types, which will be available for purchase on 3 August at 10.30am from the Museum’s Reception or on 020 8950 5526.

Ticket 1: 11am performance of ‘Fighter Command & the Battle of Britain’ and general entry to the Museum. Standard admission rates apply.

Ticket 2: 12.30pm performance of ‘Fighter Command & the Battle of Britain’ and general entry to the Museum. Standard admission rates apply.

Ticket 3: General entry to the Museum after 1pm, at discounted rate of £5.00. Please note this is a timed ticket and admission will not possible until after 1pm.

Saturday 19 September: Flypast 

Garden & SpitfireA flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) has been requested for Saturday 19 September at 3.00pm.

Please note that the flypast is subject to weather conditions and cannot be guaranteed.

 

 

Sunday 20 September: Wreath Laying 

Battle of Britain veteran William Walker laying a wreath to absent friends outside Bentley PrioryA wreath will be laid at 1.30pm at Bentley Priory Museum, to remember the brave men and women who won the Battle of Britain in the skies and on the ground 75 years ago.

 

 

 

 

Saturday 26 September: Vintage Hair & Make-Up 

Victory Rolls and 1940s make-up will be available between 12.00-3.00pm, by an experienced vintage hair and make-up artist.

Activity costs: £2 per young person under 16, £3 per adult (admission tickets are required for entry to the Museum).

17,000 Reasons to Remember: Temporary Exhibition on the contribution of Polish Aircrew during World War II, Wednesday 9 September – Saturday 3 October. 

Polish Veterans (l-r) Borysiuk, Jeziorski, Stangryciuk, Nawarski, SzymanskiThis important temporary exhibition will highlight the contribution of the Polish Aircrew during World War II, through the stories of Polish Air Force veterans and their families who were recently interviewed by young people.

Their stories represent the incredible histories of 17,000 Polish Air Crew during World War II.

 

The project is in partnership with Aik Saath: Together as One and MAPIS CIC and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Young Roots’ grant.

 

Historic Flypast over Bentley Priory Museum on Battle of Britain Day, 15 September

Boultbee Flight Academy’s historic flypast on ‘Battle of Britain Day’, Tuesday 15 September include plans for 6 fighter aircraft to fly over Bentley Priory Museum.

The 15th of  September 1940 was an important day in the Battle, when the Luftwaffe co-ordinated large bombing raids over London and the South of England, but lost a significant amount of aircraft.

To commemorate 75 years since Battle of Britain day in 1940, Boultbee Academy have organised for 40 Spitfires and Hurricanes to take part in a historic flypast.

The aircraft will all take off from Goodwood, before flying different routes around the South East of England. Details of the routes can be found here, with timings to be confirmed soon.http://www.battleofbritainday.co.uk/#!routes/c1px

Bentley Priory Museum will be open on ‘Battle of Britain Day’, 10am-5pm.

(Flypast subject to weather conditions).

 

 

 

Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary Stamps

The Operations Room at Bentley Priory features in the Royal Mail’s new commemorative stamps for the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The six special stamps will be available to buy from 16 July from 8,000 Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/battleofbritain and by calling 03457 641 641.

Battle of Britain Minisheet.indd

Andrew Hammond, the Director of Stamps and Collectibles at Royal Mail highlighted the importance of the new stamps which ‘pay tribute to the men and women who helped protect Great Britain from the formidable threat of the Luftwaffe 75 years ago. It is fitting that these stamps will help us remember the debt that we will forever owe them”.

The Royal Mail will also mark the anniversary with a special postmark on all stamped UK mail between 16 and 18 July, reading ’75th Anniversary Battle of Britain’ and will have Royal Mail vans with the images on near to RAF bases.

 

17,000 Reasons to Remember: Commemorating the Contribution of Polish Aircrew during WWII

Bentley Priory Museum was privileged to welcome Polish veterans and their families at the weekend, to be interviewed by young people from Aik Saath: Together as One.

Veterans visit to BPM

These incredible veterans included a member of the Guinea Pig Club and a Fighter Pilot who took part in D-Day Operations – which was particularly apt as interviewing was done on 6 June, the 71st Anniversary of D-Day.

The oral history interviews are part of a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to commemorate the contribution of Polish Aircrew during WWII.

The invaluable stories from these interviews will be integrated into a touring exhibition that will be on display at Bentley Priory Museum in September.

The veterans visit to the Museum was organised by MAPIS, who also supported the young people to interview the veterans.

 

 

Eileen Younghusband: Britain’s Greatest Generation

Eileen Younghusband returned to Bentley Priory in February to film at the Museum for a forthcoming four-part BBC series, ‘Britain’s Greatest Generation’.

The series will be shown on BBC Two, starting on Friday 8 May, the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. Eileen’s visit to Bentley Priory Museum will air on Friday 15 May.

During WWII, Eileen worked in the Filter Room at Bentley Priory, calculating the targets of the Luftwaffe’s bombing  fleets from information from pioneering radar.

In 1941, at the age of 19, Eileen joined the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). After completing her initial training at RAF Innsworth and RAF Leighton Buzzard, Eileen was posted to 10 Group Fighter Command at RAF Rudloe Manor, near Bath, where she proved herself to be fast and accurate enough to be commissioned as a Filterer Officer. After training at RAF Bawdsey, she went first to 9 Group, RAF Barton Hall and finally to Headquarters Fighter Command at RAF Bentley Priory.

Eileen is an incredible custodian of the important history of the work that women and men did in the Filter Rooms during WWII. She has shared these stories through published  books and media work.

Charlesin FilterRoomIn 2013, Eileen met with HRH Prince Charles – Patron of the Museum’s Fundraising Appeal –  during the opening of Bentley Priory Museum and stood next the model based on her, in the recreation of the Filter Room at the Museum.

 

 

 

Commemorating the Contribution of Polish Aircrew during the Battle of Britain

Image, above: Group of young people visiting from Slough – where the Hawker Hurricane was made during WWII.

At the end of March, we welcomed a group of young people, aged 13-25, from ‘Aik Saath’ in Slough to the Museum to explore  the contribution of Polish Aircrew during the Battle of Britain.

Young person trying on RAF Uniform - part of the Museum's handling collection. During their visit, they tried on RAF uniforms and discovered the meanings behind the different badges that the Polish aircrew wore proudly on their uniforms during the Battle of Britain.

The group also explored the medals and artefacts of Polish aircrew on display in The Rotunda. As many of the visiting young people spoke Polish, they were able to help Museum staff with interpreting some of aircrew’s log-book entries.

 

 

Group of young people exploring a pilot's log-book on display.
The Polish 303 Squadron was made operational on 2 August 1940, and was pivotal to Allied victory during the Battle of Britain.

The visit was part of the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Young Roots’ project, which will see the young people visiting other important heritage sites, including the Polish Memorial at RAF Northolt and the RAF Museum in Hendon, before they interview Polish veterans about their experiences during WWII.

The amazing stories from the interviews will then be embedded into an exhibition that the young people will curate, which will come to Bentley Priory Museum in the autumn of 2015, to commemorate the 75 Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.