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Aerospace Bristol is a new industrial heritage museum and learning centre being developed at Filton, to the north of Bristol. It will tell the story of the region's world-class aerospace industry - past, present and future. The Aerospace Bristol project is being run by the Bristol Aero Collection Trust.

Archive blog

Bristol Aero Collection Trust’s collection embraces objects and archives relating to the Bristol Aeroplane Company, its predecessor and successor companies (the ‘Bristol family’ of companies) and its workforce. Hear all about our news and discoveries. 

Second month of the project: Events, processing and maps

Martha Lewington

We are now into the second month of the Archives Revealed cataloguing project and things are moving along well. This month has been a mix of cataloguing and holding the first archive drop in session and talk of the project, as well as putting in the groundwork for future events and drop in sessions.

On the 9th of November we held the first archive drop in, and hopefully it will be the first of many. This session was focussed on the Bristol Scout and the Bristol Fighter during the First World War, with archive documents and photographs on display for one afternoon to be browsed by anyone who would like to see them.

 The display included a mix of documents from letters about leaky engines to photographs of the Bristol Fighter that was interned in Holland and given Dutch paintwork during the First World War

The display included a mix of documents from letters about leaky engines to photographs of the Bristol Fighter that was interned in Holland and given Dutch paintwork during the First World War

Similar events will be held in the future, so watch this space for information about upcoming archive drop in sessions!

Although this month hasn’t solely been cataloguing, it is still where the majority of the time for the project is spent. One of the more satisfying tasks when processing archives (a personal favourite, anyway) is rehousing material and making sure it is suitably stored in something to preserve the documents in their current state and not put the documents at any risk of degradation. Usually that will mean placing documents inside an acid free box that can be sealed, or placing loose documents within acid free folders. These booklets, for example, had been housed within an old cardboard box with no lid, leaving them at risk.

 An old cardboard box isn’t the ideal condition for archive documents

An old cardboard box isn’t the ideal condition for archive documents

But now the documents have been moved to an acid free box, with a lid:

 Low-acid surroundings should help preserve the documents in their current conditions, the lid should help keep out anything we wouldn’t want in there, and then the box will be stored in the sealed and environmentally controlled archive store. Nice and secure!

Low-acid surroundings should help preserve the documents in their current conditions, the lid should help keep out anything we wouldn’t want in there, and then the box will be stored in the sealed and environmentally controlled archive store. Nice and secure!

Most interesting find of the month

This month’s most interesting document has become a fast favourite. It is a Concorde route map from the late 1960s, estimating where and how often Concorde would be flying by the 1990s.

This map doesn’t represent the reality of what happened, but it’s a nice opportunity to see what the hopes for Concorde were.

 Map credit: BAE Systems

Map credit: BAE Systems

One route of particular note seems to be the Tokyo – Honolulu route, which had been planned for 49.5 round trips per day!

 Map credit, BAE Systems

Map credit, BAE Systems

And finally, on the 6th of December we will be opening up the archive as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s #ThanksToYou campaign for National Lottery players, thanking the lottery players who help make the Heritage Lottery Fund’s grants to museums and heritage institutions possible. Bring along a lottery ticket or scratch card to gain entry to the archive, where we will be displaying material about Bristol’s early aviation ventures and early plans for Concorde (including plenty of planned route maps and bright, shiny sales booklets). Entry will be over several 15 minute sessions on a first come, first served basis throughout the day, see the What’s On page for more information. Please note that a standard museum ticket is still required in addition to a National Lottery ticket

Archives Revealed logo

The first month and boxes of Concorde

Martha Lewington

We’re pleased to welcome our new Project Archivist who has joined Aerospace Bristol on a one year cataloguing post funded by The National Archives and The Pilgrim Trust’s Archives Revealed programme. The aim of this project is to increase both our knowledge of what we hold in the archive by cataloguing a series of archive boxes and to increase engagement with the archive by holding discovery sessions and events. By next September an extra 326 boxes will have been fully catalogued, hopefully revealing some interesting and useful pieces of aviation history, which will be shared monthly via this blog.

This first month has primarily been focused on getting familiar with the collection, and planning where to begin with 326 boxes to tackle.

Each box has a legacy label which generally works as a good starting point for identifying what is inside - so whilst you may not know exactly what documents will be in the box, you can generally identify a theme or aircraft. The largest run of boxes within this section is focused on Concorde, with a total of 106 of the 326 boxes, and with the approaching 50th anniversary of Concorde’s first flight it made sense to begin there. As of mid-October just over 50 boxes of Concorde material have been catalogued, including technical reports, in-flight material, internal memoranda, transcripts from public hearings on sonic booms and the list goes on!

 
 Just one section of archive shelving.

Just one section of archive shelving.

 An example of a booklet, this one produced for Scandinavian Airlines, from box BAE ET3/3/2

An example of a booklet, this one produced for Scandinavian Airlines, from box BAE ET3/3/2

Most interesting find of the month:

Every month our new Project Archivist will be sharing the most interesting document or box from the past month, and this month we wanted to highlight 14 specific boxes of Concorde material.

This is just 1 of 14 boxes that contain booklets from 1968-1979, largely centred around pitching Concorde to different airlines. There are 304 of these booklets, and they cover topics such as estimated costs, potential flight route plans, possible seating arrangements and information about sonic booms, providing a wonderful opportunity to see what the plans for Concorde had been if every airline who had an option did purchase the aircraft.

Finally, a reminder that the first event is approaching! On the 2nd of November we will be hosting talk by local historians John Penny and Clive Burlton. Please see the What’s On page.

Archives Revealed logo

Introducing ‘Out of the Aircraft Hold’: The History of Aerospace Companies Archive Project

Martha Lewington

This exciting one-year project has been generously funded by Archives Revealed.

A hugely significant part of the archive which comprises hundreds of technical records, historic advertising brochures and fascinating correspondence and notes, will be catalogued by the Project Archivist and made available for use for the first time.

 A letter praising the Bristol Fighter aircraft 1917.

A letter praising the Bristol Fighter aircraft 1917.

The Project Archivist will also run discovery sessions for visitors and researchers to uncover the wealth of material within the archive as part of Aerospace Bristol’s learning programme. The first event will be a talk by local historians John Penny and Clive Burlton on 2 Nov, more details will follow nearer the time.

 Bristol Pegasus engine brochure

Bristol Pegasus engine brochure

Please check back regularly for updates from the new Project Archivist and follow their exciting discoveries in the archives over the next year.