Last Blackburn Beverley to be saved

Final complete example of post-war RAF airlifter rescued from uncertain future by museum announcement

The last surviving example of the Blackburn Beverley transport is to be saved for preservation, with the announcement that it is destined for the Solway Aviation Museum at Carlisle Lake District Airport.

Beverley C1 XB259 had been at risk for some years, its previous long-term home at Fort Paull, a Napoleonic fortress on the River Humber, having closed to the public in January 2020. Efforts to sell the whole collection of artefacts assembled there came to nothing, so they were auctioned as individual lots that September. The online sale saw the Beverley being bought for £21,000 by Condor Aviation, based at a private airfield near Selby, North Yorkshire called Birchwood Lodge. It expressed the intention to move the airframe and reassemble it at its new home, using the refitted aircraft to provide paying accommodation to visitors. However, while some dismantling did take place, XB259 did not leave Fort Paull. The owner, Martyn Wiseman, has now donated it to the Solway Aviation Museum, which already has an extensive collection of significant post-war British military aircraft, the flagship being Avro Vulcan B2 XJ823.

Dismantling efforts under way in late 2021.
Dismantling efforts under way in late 2021.

A statement on 31 January said an appeal has been launched to fund the Beverley’s transportation to Carlisle, preparation of the site on which the airlifter will go on public display, and its reassembly and restoration. Contributions can be made via the museum’s Paypal account.

Of 49 examples of the Beverley built, XB259 became the final complete survivor when XH124 — which was never, it should be pointed out, transferred to RAF Museum charge — was infamously bulldozed at Hendon in 1990. XB259 itself did not see operational RAF service, spending its active career on test and trials work with manufacturer Blackburn Aircraft and then the Royal Aircraft Establishment. Its last flight was to Paull airfield close to Hull on 30 March 1974, where efforts to preserve the transport fell through. Transferred to the Museum of Army Transport in Beverley during 1983, XB259 stayed there for two decades until that collection closed, whereupon it was transported to Fort Paull. Now, hopefully, it has found a permanent home.

A sight that will now be possible again at the Solway Aviation Museum: Beverley XB259 in complete form, as pictured at Fort Paull during 2020.
A sight that will now be possible again at the Solway Aviation Museum: Beverley XB259 in complete form, as pictured at Fort Paull during 2020. VIA MARTYN WISEMAN