The Museum closed to the public on November 30th at the end of what was a very successful year for us. We asked Group Captain David Baron OBE, the Museum’s Chairman, to give us his perspective of 2006:
The past year has been one of significant accomplishment by the Museum.
Early activity was associated with final completion of the Meryl Hansed Memorial Hall, our new ‘hangar’ accommodating the Hunter and Lightning aircraft donated in 2002 by Raymond Hansed and his late wife, Meryl. We were delighted that our Patron, The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, was able to carry out the official opening on 1st April in the presence of some 80 guests including many relations and friends of the Hanseds.
Another major achievement during the first half of the year was the introduction of a completely new Museum website. Comprising a variety of novel features including a visitor forum, the site is updated with news and articles on a monthly basis and has proved a valuable enhancement as evidenced by the extremely positive reaction from members of the public.
Other physical developments during the year comprised the arrival on-site of an educational building generously gifted by the West Sussex County Council – with exquisite timing given the recent establishment of an Education Officer to fulfil a much-expanded role for the Museum. On a lesser note, but still of considerable importance, was the formal acquisition of an area of the old airfield perimeter track for staff parking – thus releasing our main car park for the sole use of visitors.
Our main ‘Open Day’ during the year was the highly successful ‘Meteor Day’ on 3rd September to mark the 60th Anniversary of Group Captain Teddy Donaldson’s world record-breaking flight from RAF Tangmere in Meteor EE549. We were pleased to host some 30 members of the Donaldson family and approximately 40 ex-Meteor pilots in addition to a large number of other visitors.
A major achievement for the Museum during 2006 was successful ‘Accreditation’ to the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. A replacement for the old system of ‘Registration’, Accreditation incorporates far more stringent requirements across the whole gamut of collection management and services to users. Suffice it to quote the Chair of the MLA: “Being awarded Accreditation is an impressive achievement. It recognises the high standard and service that Tangmere Military Aviation Museum provides and acknowledges the hard work of the staff. Many congratulations.”
This was a year of considerable progress far beyond our core activity. As we enter the Museum’s two-month closure period, the evidence of a most successful 2006 speaks for itself in our visitor numbers – a 16% increase over 2005.