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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.

Aerospace Bristol News

Aerospace Bristol welcomes historic Bristol Car home to Filton

Martha Lewington

Aerospace Bristol has welcomed a 1953 Bristol 403 saloon car home to Filton - the place where the historic Bristol Car was designed, tested and manufactured by the Bristol Aeroplane Company over 60 years ago. 

The Bristol Aeroplane Company diversified into car design and manufacture at the end of the Second World War and their automobile division went on to become Bristol Cars. Thanks to the knowledge and expertise of aviation engineers, and the manufacturing techniques of the aviation industry, Bristol Cars were able to achieve higher levels of performance and the company became world famous for quality and luxury.

The 1953 Bristol 403 will be on display in our historic Hanger 16S

The 1953 Bristol 403 will be on display in our historic Hanger 16S

Stefan Cembrowicz (Chairman of the Bristol Owners Heritage Trust), Peter Campbell (Managing Director Spencer Lane Jones LTD) and Martin Boon (Engineer from Spencer Lane Jones LTD).

Stefan Cembrowicz (Chairman of the Bristol Owners Heritage Trust), Peter Campbell (Managing Director Spencer Lane Jones LTD) and Martin Boon (Engineer from Spencer Lane Jones LTD).

Linda Coode, Collections Manager at Aerospace Bristol, said: “The Bristol 403 was actually tested in The Bristol Aeroplane Company’s wind tunnel and this aviation heritage can be clearly seen in the aerodynamic body design. The bonnet, doors, fuel filler cap and boot all open from the inside, to remove the wind resistance that would be caused by external handles. It’s a fine example of high performance engineering to come out of Filton and we’re thrilled to feature it in the Aerospace Bristol exhibition.”

The Bristol 403 that will be displayed in the museum was discovered in a barn in South West England, where it had been stored for over 30 years and had fallen into disrepair. The classic car was rescued by the Bristol Owners Heritage Trust and carefully restored to its former glory by volunteer apprentices from restoration experts Spencer Lane Jones. Now restored and ready for public display, the luxury vehicle has been delivered to Hangar 16S: the grade II listed WWI hangar that will house the Aerospace Bristol exhibition when the £19m industrial heritage museum opens this summer.

The Bristol 403 being carefully delivered to Aerospace Bristol

The Bristol 403 being carefully delivered to Aerospace Bristol

Inside the Bristol 403 which has been restored for our collection.

Inside the Bristol 403 which has been restored for our collection.

Stefan Cembrowicz, Chair of the Bristol Owners Heritage Trust, said: “I would like to thank all of the dedicated volunteers who prepared the Bristol 403 to such a high standard. Hundreds of hours of work and an incredible level of care and attention have gone into restoring this beautiful car, with over 30 hours spent on preparation of the bonnet panel alone. I am truly delighted to see her arrive safely at Aerospace Bristol and very much look forward to seeing this wonderful vehicle on public display alongside other remarkable examples of Bristol engineering.”

The Bristol 403 was known as a “fighter pilots delight” due to its aviation heritage, a “businessman’s express” due to its combination of speed and luxury, and a “hushabout rushabout” due to its combination of speed and quiet running. Fitted with a 100bhp, 2 litre, 6 cylinder engine, developed from the pre-war BMW 328 Sports/racing engine, it could reach a top speed of 104mph in standard trim. A total of 287 were built, each costing just under £3,000 (the equivalent of around £61,000 today), 

Taking off this summer, Aerospace Bristol will bring together a varied collection of nationally-significant exhibits and hidden archive records to tell over one hundred years of aviation history for the very first time. The museum’s iconic centrepiece will be Concorde 216; designed, tested and built in Bristol, she was the last Concorde to be built and the last to fly. 

RAF Chinook airlifts Sea Harrier ‘jump jet’ to Aerospace Bristol

Martha Lewington

As part of an unusual and challenging task to move several large objects into the new museum, the engineering team at Aerospace Bristol called on the RAF to ask if they could help move a Sea Harrier. As a result, a Chinook helicopter has been drafted in as part of a training exercise and spectacularly airlifted the Sea Harrier ‘jump jet’ across Filton airfield to the new Aerospace Bristol museum site. 

To reach the historic hangar and take its place in the Aerospace Bristol exhibition, the Sea Harrier had to be transported across a railway line and over Filton airfield. With no road bridge wide enough for it to cross, the RAF provided vital support with a Chinook from No 27 Sqn RAF Odiham and the RAF Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) successfully lifting the aircraft to the Aerospace Bristol site. 

Please support Aerospace Bristol with a donation or call 01179 315 315 between 9am and 5:30pm.  By coming on board with a donation today, you will be helping to create our fantastic new exhibition and building a stunning new home for the last Concorde ever to fly.

Harrier1.jpg

Wing Commander Steve Bell, Chief of Staff at RAF Odiham, said, “Getting the opportunity to assist with a complex operation of this nature is a challenge, but one for which the unique qualities of the Chinook helicopter, and it’s highly trained Royal Air Force crews, are ideally suited. Working with our colleagues from JADTEU in support of Aerospace Bristol, in the knowledge that they will be exhibiting this distinctive example of British Air Power to the public, has been an honour.” 

Linda Coode, Collections Manager at Aerospace Bristol, added: “We are thrilled to welcome the Sea Harrier to Aerospace Bristol and would like to thank the RAF for their tremendous support. We look forward to welcoming visitors this summer, when they will be able to see the Sea Harrier on display alongside many other exhibits; including its Bristol Siddeley-designed engine, which gave the aircraft its vertical and short take-off and landing capability, and is one of many important engines developed at Filton.” 

The Sea Harrier’s new home is a 100-year-old grade II listed hangar which started life as part of an Aircraft Acceptance Park in WW1. Airframes and engines were assembled and tested by Royal Flying Corps engineers, then handed directly to flight crews who flew them to the front. Hangar 16S was later home to RAF 501 Squadron, who were then sent to France as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force in 1940 and saw distinguished service in the Battle of Britain. 

Taking off this summer, Aerospace Bristol will bring together a varied collection of nationally-significant exhibits and hidden archive records to tell over one hundred years of aviation history for the very first time. The museum’s iconic centrepiece will be Concorde 216; designed, tested and built in Bristol, she was the last Concorde to be built and the last to fly.

Concorde completes final journey to new £19m home

Martha Lewington

Aerospace Bristol welcomes the last Concorde ever to fly 

The last Concorde ever to fly has safely completed her journey to Aerospace Bristol, a new £19m museum taking off in Filton, to the north of Bristol, this summer. 

The complex move was conducted with the greatest care by engineers from British Airways and Airbus, who managed every facet of Concorde’s final journey. The iconic aircraft was towed across Filton runway and up a ramp into the new purpose-built hangar at Aerospace Bristol. The hangar, constructed by Kier, had a wall removed to allow the aircraft to enter the building and, with less than a metre between each wing tip and the building, Concorde was slowly and carefully winched into her exhibition position. 

British Airways’ Concorde Alpha Foxtrot – also known as 216 - was the last Concorde to be built and the last to fly. She made her maiden flight on 20 April 1979 and touched down on her last flight to Filton on 26 November 2003. Since that landing, Alpha Foxtrot has stood alongside the Filton runway, cared for continuously by Airbus UK and remaining in remarkable condition. Now inside, she starts a new chapter as the centrepiece of the new Aerospace Bristol museum.

Iain Gray, Chairman of Aerospace Bristol, said: “We couldn’t be more delighted to welcome Concorde 216 into her new purpose-built home at Aerospace Bristol. With such enthusiasm for Concorde in this country, and particularly in Bristol where she was designed, built and landed for the final time, it is only fitting that this magnificent aircraft should have a permanent home at Filton. I would like to thank all of our donors for helping to make Aerospace Bristol a reality and look forward to welcoming our first visitors on board this summer.”

Mark Stewart, General Manager and HR Director, Airbus said; “Airbus has been the proud custodian for Alpha Foxtrot since 2003 and has been keen that we could find a permanent location for such a fantastic historical exhibit of Filton engineering skills. After 13 years of caring for the aircraft we are pleased to deliver her to Aerospace Bristol so that people can visit and admire her for years to come.”

David Hart, British Airways’ Head of Fleet Planning said: “It is with great pride that we have helped to deliver our iconic Alpha Foxtrot to her new home.  This move will allow thousands more people to be inspired by her sleek, innovative design and supersonic statistics.”

Starting in the earliest days of flight, when Bristol Boxkite biplanes flew over Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, Aerospace Bristol will transport visitors through more than one hundred years of fascinating aviation history. Visitors will travel through two world wars, exploring the vital role of aircraft in these conflicts, through the drama and technological advances of the space race and on to the modern day, where they will discover the latest technologies of today’s aerospace industry.  As a first-class museum with learning at its heart, Aerospace Bristol aims to inspire the next generation of engineers with remarkable stories of ingenious design and engineering innovation.

Fundraising for the new museum is not yet complete – with a further £2m required to finalise the project. The development of Aerospace Bristol to date, and the construction of the new Concorde hangar, has been made possible by the support of Founding Partners BAE Systems, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, South Gloucestershire Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. In addition, the project has attracted support from Bristol City Council, West of England LEP, the Libor Fines Fund as well as GKN, Renishaw and the John James Foundation.