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The Probus Club of Meltham - Visit to A V Roe

04 Oct 2016

Visit to AV Roe

The Probus Trip to AVRO Heritage Centre on the 4th October at the former BAE Systems Site at Woodford Cheshire was long anticipated.

It was a visit attended by some of our members and I was an employee to a subcontractor on these premises. The runways and Hangers have gone completely and the heritage centre is a worthwhile reminder of AVRO and subsequent companies distinguished past. The Heritage Centre museum opened 13 November 2015 and is about a mile from the road.

Avro was a British aircraft manufacturer founded in 1910 by Alliot Verdon Roe in Manchester. The company had developmental and manufacturing sites in Alexandra Park. Chadderton , Trafford Park and Woodford.

Their designs include the Avro 504 used as a trainer in the First World War and the Avro Lancaster of the pre-eminent bombers of the Second World War and of course the delta wing Avro Vulcan a stalwart of the Cold War.

As part of the deal to sell Woodford Aerodrome for redevelopment in December 2011, BAE agreed to fund a new heritage centre on the site BAE Systems and Avro Heritage Trust commissioned the design and construction of the new museum.

The former fire station of the aerodrome has been renovated to host the new museum, which is an ironic choice of location given that a substantial amount of Avro's documentation (including the original drawings of the Lancaster, Vulcan and Nimrod) were lost in a fire at BAE Chadderton in 1959. The site is 2.39 acres in size. The museum has an exhibition hall, a gallery, a cafe, reading rooms, and classrooms. Construction started in August 2014, and it opened in November 2015. BAE have handed over the museum building to the Avro Heritage Trust.

The exhibition included an Avro Vulcan B2 bomber, This was on permanent display adjacent to the museum. The bomber was built at Woodford, and was used by the RAF. The nose and cockpit section of an Avro Vulcan is also on display, and Probus visitors were able to sit in it. Murals that used to be located in Woodford's employee restaurant were displayed in the main exhibition hall.

The members were given a tour of the facility which is laid out in a linear timeline order.

The Staff were attentive and the visit was informative. The Vulcan Cockpit a special experience for our members. The museum is always being developed and no doubt we could have a further trip when more aircraft are available there.

I worked at Woodford during the period the Whisper Jet Regional Jets were being manufactured and the subsequent Nimrod MR4 creation. It was a superb experience at the time to watch the mighty Antonov carry the Comet fuselages into Woodford to be Stripped and Surveyed for conversion to the MR4 the Mighty Sea Hunter.

The Visit was excellent and I thank the Staff for ensuring our Probus members had a great day together with an enjoyable bite to eat in the cafeteria.

Richard Ryden

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