I wasn’t blogging when we went to visit the Shuttleworth Collection in September last year, so this is a belated review / round up of what they have on offer.
Shuttleworth is based in Old Warden in Bedfordshire, just over an hours drive from North London. It is a collection of aircraft and cars started by Richard Shuttleworth when he inherited enough money at the age of 23 to properly enjoy his passion for racing and aviation!
The family wealth came from a long established firm of Clayton and Shuttleworth who were agricultural engineers and steam wagon makers (think steam traction engines).
Whilst Richard had a successful racing career in the late 20s and 30s an accident in 1936 ended it for him. But it meant that after his recuperation he turned to his interest in aeronautics. He was particularly interested in the restoration and use of historic aircraft (this being 1936/7, historic means the turn of the century early bi-planes).
With the outbreak of war in 1939 he joined up with the Royal Air Force, but was killed in a cross-country training exercise in August 1940.
His mother, Dorothy, keep the collection going in his memory. It is his passion and enthusiasm for restoring marvellous old vehicles and aircraft to their former glory that can still be seen today and because of this that the collection contains aircraft from 1909-1950. Some of these are the last airworthy aircraft of their type remaining anywhere in the world.
This is what makes the collection and museum so different. On event days visitors can see the vehicles and airplanes in action. Being driven and flown as they should be as machines. Not just gathering dust.
Early on a summer evening is the best time to see even the oldest of the aircraft being flown, when the air is the still.
My photos below are from the Heritage Day they hold, where visitors are able to bring along their own vintage and veteran vehicles to be part of the parade of the museum vehicles before the airshow. The house was also open and we had a wander about the gardens.
The collection is now on its Summer opening hours from Feb to Oct, opening at 9.30am to 5pm and is £20 to look around the Collection and Swiss Gardens.
Event days may have different entrance prices, check out the what’s on section for details.
I highly recommend the collection for those who like automotive and avaiation history as well as those who like general history. I’d tie the visit into an event day if possible to make the most of your day. It’s nice to go to a museum where the piceces are used and working, within reach and aren’t behind glass.
(All views and photos my own, I was not asked to review the collection but wanted to share one of our days out!)