Taking Off - the AAAI blog
Come Fly With Me: The Archives of Sir Freddie Laker
Rather belatedly, I draw your attention to an Archives Hub feature on the Freddie Laker archive at West Sussex Record Office.
The archive consists of around 700 files including a vast amount of press cuttings, spanning 1974 to 1983. The records document the core activities of not just Laker Airways but also subsidiaries including the famous Skytrain Holidays and various other business ventures of Sir Freddie’s such as Aviation Traders.
The Laker archive online!
A timely blog from Alice Millard at West Sussex Record Office to mark the opening of the Laker archive
In 2020, West Sussex Record Office was awarded funding by the Business Archives Council to catalogue the archive of Sir Freddie Laker. Documents arrived at the Record Office in bankers’ boxes and lever arch files, ready for repackaging and cataloguing.
The archive itself comprises records of Laker Airways, its subsidiaries, Sir Freddie’s other business ventures, and some personal papers from 1956 to 2015. These records cover key moments in Sir Freddie’s life, such as the landmark antitrust suit brought against major airlines, the launch of Skytrain, the eventual liquidation of the Laker company, as well as a myriad of documents on his other business ventures. The archive also includes personal papers such as awards, invitations, Sir Freddie’s aviation licenses, correspondence, plus material concerning his love of horse racing.
It is a very rich archive and allows us a fantastic insight into Sir Freddie’s life, the founding and management of Laker Airways, and the complexities of its demise in the 1980s.
The catalogue can be viewed through the search facility on the WSRO's website.
February update on the survey of archives of UK airline operators
As part of the Initiative's Networks for Change grant, we are undertaking a survey of archives created by UK airline operators. This will complement the existing survey into archives of aircraft manufacturers.
Since last year, project volunteers have been undertaking research to identify where archive records created by UK airline operators are known to exist.
We are now able to publish a longlist of airline operators and where archive records have been identified to date.
This can be viewed here
Please do take a look to see if you have information you can add to this.
Even if the ‘materials identified’ column lists a ‘yes’ for an airline we are still interested to learn more about any archive records known to exist.
Meet the Archivist: The Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative
Lucy Bonner and Tim Powell will be giving a talk on the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative at the Institute of Historical Research on the evening of 26 January. Details can be found at https://www.history.ac.uk/events/meet-archivist-aviation-and-aerospace-archives-initiative
Cataloguing the wind tunnel photographs from NAE Bedford
Jack Garside, Archivist at the Science Museum, reports that John Coppen, a Science Museum volunteer, has recently completed the listing of the photographs recording the construction and operation of the wind tunnels at the National Aeronautical Establishment (later the Royal Aircraft Establishment), Bedford.
There are 3,400 images in 14 albums and are dated between 1948 and 1959. These haven’t been digitised yet but the list has been published online at https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/documents/aa110069384/national-aeronautical-establishment-photographic-archive.
There is more on the fascinating history of RAE Bedford on the Bedford Aeronautical Heritage Group website
Aerospace Bristol is five!
Aerospace Bristol, which some may remember as the super venue for the AAAI's first conference in 2020, celebrated its fifth anniversary last night with a well-attended birthday party.
After years of planning and fund-raising, the museum, a partnership of the Bristol Aero Collection Trust and the Concorde Trust, officially opened its doors on 17 October 2017. Since then it has been highly successful, despite the COVID pandemic and other challenges.
Guests had a chance to see the new Bristol Fighter exhibit, and after speeches, an opportunity to see inside the conservation workshop, dominated by the fuselage of a Bristol Freighter in RNZAF colours, or admire once again the iconic Concorde.
To mark this special year Aerospace Bristol launched its new appeal,
Engineering Futures, which aims to raise £500,000 this coming year to support
its award-winning Learning Programme, which has reached over 50,000 school
children and young people since October 2017. More
So Happy Birthday Aerospace Bristol, here's to many more!
The Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative (AAAI) needs you!
Work towards the survey of archive records created by airline operators has launched!
The first stage of the survey process is identifying where archive records created by airline operators are currently held – this could be in a record office, with a successor company or with current and former employees, and so on.
Initial work has begun on identifying archive records and the AAAI is now putting a public call out for information.
Do you know of the whereabouts of any archive records created by airline operators? If so, we’d be pleased to receive this information. Please forward any information to Lucy.Bonner@imeche.org
£15,000 Grant to the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative
We are delighted to report that the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative has been awarded a grant of £15,000 by The National Archives. This grant, from the Collaborate and Innovate Networks for Change strand, will enable us to work on three distinct areas:
- A survey and guide for archival records of airline operators to locate and provide information on the location of, and access to, archives material. Given the detrimental impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the airline sector, a survey and guide to where its archives are held and the ability to identify archives at risk is timely. This will complement our survey and guide to archives of aircraft manufacturers at https://www.aviationarchives.uk/Guide_to_the_Archives_of_Aircraft_Manufacturing_in_the_UK.html.
- A professional website re-design to make the AAAI’s work more visible and easier to navigate and to give the network a more stable long-term platform on which to share resources and best practice guidelines.
- A conference to further raise the profile of the AAAI and serve to develop and enhance connections between individuals and across organisations. It will also be an opportunity to promote the use of archive material for research, enthusing historians and academics to get back into archives following the pandemic.
New resources added to the online Guidance!
We have added some further resources to our Guidance for Custodians of Archival Resources. At the request of members we have provided links to a number of good practical and accessible video guides to some aspects of the curation of archives, such as digitisation procedures and tips.
These are all listed in the Resources section of the Guidance and links are also in the appropriate places of the sections of the document.
As more resources of this kind are provided, we shall add to this list.
New structure for the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative.
It's Civil Aviation Day!
To mark Civil Aviation Day 2021, I go back 50 years to 1971, and the introduction of the Trident Three airliner into the BEA fleet.
As a plane spotter in my childhood, I have happy memories of travelling with school friends across London (Walthamstow to Heathrow, a long trip), bag packed with my marked up copy of Civil Aircraft Markings, pens and notebook, a thermos and packed lunch. Almost invariably the first thing we went to see on arrival were the rows of Tridents, in the earlier days some still retaining BEA colours, others repainted in the newish British Airways livery.
The Hawker Siddeley Trident 3B had entered service with BEA on 1 April 1971, supplementing its fleets of Trident 1s and 2s. It had a range of around 2,100 miles and carried 180 passengers. The most significant difference to its predecessors, however, was its fourth RB 162 engine. This small turbo-jet provided the heavier Trident Three with an extra 15% thrust for take-off.
There are still a few around. One with clipped wings at the Aviation Viewing Park at Manchester Airport, another at the Science Museum store at Wroughton, Wiltshire, and a ‘cockpit’ at the Jet Age Museum in Gloucestershire.
It probably wasn’t, as a Chinese source claimed, the 'best aircraft the west had ever produced' (https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/hawker-siddeley-hs121-trident) but I have very fond memories of it.
Yesterday's Papers: Aviation Archives Conference
Following on from the successful Aviation Archives Conference at Aerospace Bristol in February 2020, this free on-line half-day conference is for everyone who cares for the sector's paper-based and electronic heritage collections in museums, both large and small, and are looking for guidance and suggestions on the way forward.
It aims to highlight the importance of these records and inspire practical ways forward in preserving and promoting them to a wide variety of new and established audiences.
Mike Rogers - “What’s in that box?” - an introduction to cataloguing.
Peter Davison – “Vapour Trails need Paper Trails” – examples of successful cataloguing.
Caroline Bendix – “Volunteering in archives and libraries” - your valuable role in conserving our heritage
Tony Pilmer – “Conserving and protecting archives” - some practical ideas
The conference will
also introduce the Aerospace
and Aviation Archives Initiative (AAAI) and its work. The
AAAI comprises representatives from organisations, museums and corporate
collections and aims to promote the preservation of, and access to,
Britain’s records relating to aerospace and aviation.
To book your place, visit Eventbrite and order your ticket now.
Instructions on how to join the Zoom conference will be sent to all attendees on 10th and 11th May
Rochester Avionics Archives presentation on Youtube!
Webinar on Rochester Avionics Archive
Please save the date and join us for a webinar on 2 February, 2pm-3.30pm, to discover more the creation, management, and future plans of the Rochester Avionics Archive.
Note that you will not be sent the log-in details until a few days before the event (so please don’t worry if you only receive an email confirming your booking when you register now!).
This event is organised by the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative. It will begin with a pre-recorded talk given by Chris Bartlett of Rochester Avionics Archive, located at BAE Systems’ Rochester site. Chris will tell the story of the establishment of the collection of objects and archival material by a group of ex-employees, who now manage both on a voluntary basis. He will also discuss how they have become an important resource supporting the company and business of BAE Systems. The talk will conclude with a showcase of some of the highlights of the collection.
will then be live in discussion with Tony Pilmer, Librarian and Archivist at
the Royal Aeronautic Society, to talk more about Rochester Avionics Archive and
to take questions from the audience. There will also be a chance to hear about
the latest activities of the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative.
Rochester Avionics Archive:
The BAE Systems site at Rochester has gone through many changes of name and can trace its ancestry back to the original company founded by William Elliott in 1804; to many people the site is still known as ‘Elliotts’. The large collection of avionic hardware items together with an archive of films, documents, videos, brochures and newspapers goes back to 1950 but was brought together in 2005.
About Chris Bartlett:
Chris joined BAE SYSTEMS in 1972 and was involved in the design, development and programme management of avionics. His final position with BAE Systems was as Chief Technologist with responsibility for the strategic development of technologies into current or new business areas. He is a chartered engineer and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Medal from the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He took early retirement in 2005 and led on the establishment of Rochester Avionics Archive, where he is now Curator.