Researchers can now access never-before-seen records dating back to 1910 as Aerospace Bristol launches its Archive Service and opens a treasure trove of aerospace history thanks to National Lottery funding and a generous grant from Viridor Credits.
Aerospace Bristol is celebrating the opening of its new Archive and Reading Room, making a repository of rare company records, spanning more than a century of aviation history, available to explore for the first time.
Aerospace Bristol and the new facilities have been made possible by National Lottery players through a £4.7million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The purpose-built store and reading room houses the substantial archives of companies including the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, Bristol Aeroplane Company and British Aircraft Corporation and was formally opened on Monday 11th June by Sir George White Bt.; Vice Patron of Aerospace Bristol and great-grandson of the Bristol Aeroplane Company’s founder.
Situated in the new museum’s Concorde Hangar, where the last Concorde ever to fly is on display, the treasure trove of aerospace history includes minute books, account books, sales ledgers, annual reports, photographs, glass plate negatives, drawings, film and ephemera, with books and journals supporting the collection.
Zoe Watson, Archives Manager at Aerospace Bristol, said: “It is vital that we preserve Bristol’s rich aerospace heritage for future generations and I’m delighted that these unique records are now accessible to researchers for the first time. With state-of-the-art archiving facilities, built to PD5454 standards, we can be sure that our history will be safely preserved for many decades to come.”
Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “From First World War fighter planes to the ground-breaking Concorde, British aviation was born and bred at Filton Airfield. Thanks to National Lottery players, people of all ages will be able to share those stories and see an incredible collection of aviation heritage – most for the very first time.”
Alison Salvador, General Manager at Viridor Credits, said: “Having originally funded the restoration and renovation of a WWI triple span Belfast hanger at Aerospace Bristol in order to house part of the main museum, Viridor Credits Board had no hesitation in extending this project to also fund the Archives and Reading room. When we visited the site last year, we were all hugely impressed with the scale of the project and the work done to provide an aviation heritage and learning centre in Filton which so successfully inspires, entertains and informs present and future generations all about Bristol's aerospace industry. We are immensely proud to be associated with celebrating the vast yet often forgotten achievements of the aerospace industry in Bristol and all of those people who made it possible.”
The archives are accessible by appointment only and open to all for research purposes. Appointments can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.