Boxkite to Concorde

 

 

Bristol Aero Collection Trust - About us

Aims

The aim of the Bristol Aero Collection Trust is to preserve for future generations the history of aeronautical development in the Filton area. Aircraft production began on the Filton site in 1910, when the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company started building the Boxkite biplane. The factory went from strength to strength, and was the largest factory in Europe by the start of the Second World War. Aircraft, engines, spacecraft, missiles, and other more diverse products were produced during the 20th Century, and the site is still very active today with Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and GKN.

Formation

The Bristol Aero Collection was formed in 1988 by a group of like-minded individuals, all passionate about aviation heritage at Filton. The group was publicly launched in June 1990, and in November 1992, the Bristol Aero Collection became a registered charity. The Bristol Aero Collection Team was also created to support the trust, by recruiting volunteers and working towards establishing a museum open to the public.

A former Bristol Aeroplane Company shadow factory building in Banwell was loaned to the BAC on a temporary basis. Many artefacts, including the forward fuselage of a prototype Bristol Britannia, a Sycamore helicopter, a bloodhound missile, a mock-up of the Giotto space vehicle and several more aircraft parts, engines, missiles and rockets could be brought together under one roof. The Bristol Aero Collection could now offer tours to members and groups.

Kemble Airfield

Bristol 173 arriving at Kemble in 2002In 1995, the Collection agreed a ten year lease on a hangar on Kemble Airfield - which at the time was still MoD owned, but was rapidly expanding as a general aviation airfield. Initially the BAC could only be opened to groups or during air shows and open days, but subsequent changes to the airfield layout meant that the hangar could be opened regularly. From Easter 2000, the hangar opened its doors to the public, open on Sundays and Mondays during the summer months, staffed entirely by volunteers. At the end of the lease in December 2005 a new home was found a short distance away, in another hangar on the airfield. This hangar was used by Airbus for storage, and the BAC occupy a substantial portion of this hangar, generously donated by Airbus.

As well as aircraft, engines, missiles, spacecraft and road transport, the collection included many other exhibits related to the aerospace industry in South Gloucestershire. Displays were arranged around the hangar, highlighting aircraft production since 1910, and its effect on the population of North Bristol. A significant archive of material was gathered and made available to researchers.

Concorde at Filton

Concorde flying over Bristol for the last timeIn April 2003, British Airways and Air France jointly announced the retirement of their Concorde fleets. The supersonic airliner has a long association with Bristol, being designed and assembled both at Filton as well as in France. On 26th November that year the last Concorde built, G-BOAF, landed at Filton for preservation. This was also the last ever flight by a Concorde. A visitors centre was constructed to allow guided tours of the aircraft, opening in August 2004, and staffed by volunteers of the Bristol Aero Collection. Since then many delighted visitors have seen the flight deck and sat in the cabin, with all proceeds from ticket sales going towards a future museum at Filton to house Concorde and other exhibits. The visitors centre closed permanently in 2010 to allow deep maintenance on Concorde to take place.

Bristol Aerospace Centre

For many years, the Bristol Aero Collection has been formulating plans to build an aviation heritage and learning centre museum in the Filton area, in close co-operation with The Concorde Trust. The arrival of Concorde at Filton in 2003 increased public awareness of our aims, and has led to significant backing from major companies and organisations. Initially a site near Cribbs Causeway to the north west of the airfield was earmarked, with planning permission granted for a state-of-the-art building with Concorde as the centrepiece. An initial application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was unsuccessful, however the planned closure of the airfield presented new opportunities. Efforts since then have focussed on the former RAF site on Filton Airfield, which includes two grade II listed hangars. The BAC hangar at Kemble closed at the end of May 2012 to allow for the exhibits to be packed and placed in storage pending the development of the heritage site at Filton.

In late 2012 it was revealed that new heritage centre would be called the Bristol Aerospace Centre, and would be located on a 9-acre site centred on the listed hangars, donated by BAE Systems. A new building would be erected on this site to house Concorde. Significant investment and support has been pledged by BAE Systems, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and other companies, and the project recieved a £4.4 million first-round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund in May 2013.

© 2003-2013 Bristol Aero Collection. Registered Charity No. 1010632