We were greeted on our arrival with a short talk by a curator of the museum whilst enjoying a coffee and some biscuits in Wings Restaurant before entering the museum itself.
RAF Museum London has a world-class collection and display of aircraft in several interactive exhibitions. The film and sound collection has some seven millioin feet of film dating from the pioneering days of aviation to the present day and the photograph collection contains about 250,000 images. The fine art collection is arguably the best collection of military aviation artwork in the UK and represents the people, aircraft, equipment and 'Service Life' of the RAF. The medal collection encompasses all orders, decorations and medals and compliments the uniform collection, which is particularly strong on the First and Second World Wars.
We started our tour of the Museum in the Grahame-White Factory, which houses the oldest aircraft in the collection. Claude Grahame White was born in Bursledon, Hampwhite in 1879. In 1909 he learned to fly in France, and became one of the first Englishmen to qualify as a pilot. In 1911 he established a teaching school at Hendon, which quickly became Hendon Aerodrome. The Aerodrome was lent to the Admiralty (1916), and eventually taken over by the RAF in 1919. Grahame White's aerodrome was purchased by the RAF in 1925. Our tour took us through the Milestones of Flight, Bomber Hall and Battle of Britain Hall hangars. It was wonderful to see how far we have come in just 100 years from the early aircraft
to the present day Eurofighter.
There was lots to see and we took plenty of photographs, which I have put together in the slide show below.
After another complimentary coffee and biscuits we were back on the road to our next stop Alexandra Palace, or Ally Pally as it is fondly known, where we spent the afternoon as guests of Tourism South East at their Excusions 2011 Exhibition, after receiving a goody bag and refreshments of tea/coffee and biscuits.
This exhibition is held annually in support of the group travel industry and offers visitors the opportunity to gather information to plan future days out, short breaks and stays. The exhibition allows face to face communication with over 200 exhibitors including attractions, destinations and accommodation providers from across the UK, Ireland and Europe. Our tour operator, Ellen Smith Ltd, wanted our views on what was on offer to enable them to put together tours and visits to places that interest their customers, so our quest was to collect information/leaflets on places that interested us to pass on to the tour manager. It was all very interesting and we collected a whole bag full of leaflets for Lesley, the tour manager, before grabbing a sandwich for lunch and as there was a bar we had a pint too!
Our next stop was our hotel for the night which was the Ramada Guilford at Leatherhead and it was so lovely we took a photo the following morning before we left.
We enjoyed a scrumptious evening meal with a glass of wine and then a leisurely stroll down to the pub about 20 yards away for couple of drinks before retiring for the night.
We passed a very interesting gatehouse on the way to the pub, which we found out is the entrance to Horsely Towers, a grand Victorian mansion built in 1828 with an ornate classical chapel, wonderful four-poster beds and Great Hall. Horsley Towers is available for hire for conferences and wedding receptions etc.
I hope you'll join me for the final leg of our journey.