The Kingston Aviation Centenary Project completed its first phase with the acceptance of its final evaluation report by the Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of 2013. This closes the two year financial support by the Heritage Lottery fund which has enabled the team to build a portable exhibition, build a website and establish an oral history programme whilst reaching out to the local community
Since January 2012 the project team has organised the Kingston Aviation Festival in Kingston Market Place, a “Kingston Aircraft” art exhibition in Kingston Museum, five exhibitions in local libraries and one in Canbury Park Road as well as exhibiting at other events. 2,800 people, including 600 children, have attended illustrated talks on Kingston’s aviation history in schools, pubs, clubs, societies and local organisations of all kinds.
The most popular talk is “Bat Boat to Red Arrows – 100 years of world class aircraft from Kingston”. There is also “The Great Aircraft Factory, Ham”, “The Sopwith Story”, “The Hurricane Story”, and for young children “Tom, Fred and Harry build aeroplanes in Kingston”. You can contact the project if you know of a group who would enjoy one of these talks or if you would like to present a talk using one of these slideshows.
The website (www.kingstonaviation.org) continues to expand in content. The “Hawker people” photo archive on the website is increasingly interesting as more images are annotated with individual’s names which pop up when you hover the cursor over a face. If you have interesting group photos, especially ones taken in the workplace, the project would be keen to receive scanned copies. Also on the website are extracts from the first twelve oral history interviews which include people like and . Twenty four interviews have been completed. There is a significant list of further interviews to organise and the project is always looking for volunteer help with transcribing the recordings.
A more recent innovation is the “100 years ago this week” newsletters which are re-living the growth of The Sopwith Aviation Company at the pace it happened. You can find back issues summarised on the website under the “100 years ago” tab where you can also sign up to get future newsletters by e-mail.
Over the last two years the project has been receiving donations of archive material and memorabilia all of which in turn is donated to the Hawker technical archive at the Brooklands Museum, run by Hawker Association member . A considerable amount of duplicate archive material and a digital archive are also being donated to the Kingston Local History Centre.
The project will be assisting Kingston Museum with the aviation element of their First World War Exhibition in May this year whilst continuing into the foreseeable future with talks, newsletters, recording oral histories and populating the website. The team is keeping the project running with the help of donations from outreach talks and advertising revenue from the website. (If you buy from Amazon, going to the Amazon website from their link in the bottom right hand corner of the project website brings in a payment from Amazon.)
The project team would like to record their appreciation for the invaluable support received from the Hawker Association and many of its members. Without the Hawker Association agreeing to sponsor the initial Heritage Lottery Fund application and helping establish a project bank account there would be no Kingston Aviation Centenary project. The tremendous support from everybody else contacted has been equally invaluable. Special thanks must go to BAE Systems, the Brooklands Museum and the Royal Borough of Kingston Council.
You can get in touch with the project via the website www.kingstonaviation.org or by direct contact with the Joint Project Leaders: 020 8546 2715 (Outreach talks, Education, Newsletters, Exhibitions) and 020 8949 5498 (Oral history, Website, Photo archive).