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‘Exemplary’ plans for Biggin Hill Memorial Museum secure National Lottery funding
Bromley Council, in partnership with the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust has received a grant of almost £2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum project.
The unanimous award decision was made by the HLF’s London committee who described the project work as ‘exemplary’. Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, work will commence on site this autumn bringing about the delivery of a much wanted museum.
This is a major milestone for the project which will see a new museum open at the site of St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance, ensuring the Chapel and Biggin Hill’s heritage is protected for future generations. In total more than £5m has now been secured to deliver this sustainable scheme which includes a £1.5m endowment fund.
The museum is envisaged to open in November 2018, 100 years after the end of the First World War. The Biggin Hill Memorial Museum will inspire future generations and the exhibitions will remember ‘The Few’ and honour the Many. The HLF approved plans create new opportunities for schools and community groups to access and engage directly with the heritage. New museum exhibitions, visitor and learning facilities on site will ensure that the heritage has a secure future. Volunteers will help to record, protect and reveal never-before-heard personal experiences of war which will be protected and revealed to audiences. Biggin Hill Memorial Museum will also join in RAF 100 celebrations next year, working with partners across a new London based network to recognise Biggin’s contribution to RAF history.
Biggin Hill is one of Britain’s oldest aerodromes, currently celebrating its centenary. RAF Biggin Hill played a pivotal role in the Second World War, particularly during the Battle of Britain as Sir Winston Churchill’s ‘strongest link’, and is of local and international importance. Built in 1951 using funds raised from the nation, the Grade II listed Chapel of Remembrance is a lasting memorial to the aircrew who gave their lives in aerial combat during the Second World War. Internationally significant, visitors travel from across the world to visit and remember. Directly neighbouring the historic airfield, the site continues to remain an important focal point for community gathering and remembrance.
In an interview recorded for the museum, Biggin Hill, Battle of Britain veteran, Geoffrey Wellum, said: “it’s not about medals, it’s not about thank yous but it’s nice to be remembered, because being remembered covers everybody who served and fly under the Battle of Britain and that’s all we ask, to be remembered”.
In a joint statement by Bromley Council Leader, Cllr Carr and Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust Chairman, Bruce Walker: “This is an important moment for both organisations. There has been a long standing wish to see the heritage of Biggin Hill protected and shared, this is a much anticipated museum made possible by the support of the HLF”
Stuart Hobley, Head of HLF London, said: “Biggin Hill has a history that is truly iconic, locally, nationally and internationally. This new museum will help future generations explore the impact of Churchill’s ‘strongest link’, and form a significant part of the RAF 100 celebrations next year, as well as providing a suitable memorial to the actions of ‘The Few’. We are delighted that National Lottery players are able to support this excellent project”.