Science Museum - Wroughton

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14 years 2 months

Posts: 318

Many years ago at a PFA Rally held at Wroughton I looked round the Science Museum Reserve Store at there. This was fascinating as besides the aircraft there were such gems as the original research hovercraft SRN1. I would like to take another look around, does anyone know if they have Open Days this year, I know its not open very often and would be grateful for any information please! Thanks
Original post

Member for

7 years 5 months

Posts: 628

They used to have regular open days, years ago, but these became less and less frequent and today don't seem to happen at all. My impression is that the airfield is now only open to researchers by prior appointment. Shame. You could keep an eye on the Science Museum Website, just in case.

Member for

6 years 7 months

Posts: 56

They used to have warbird airshows as well they were great with a chance to see in the hangars,and close up crowd lines.

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16 years 2 months

Posts: 8,505

I have watched the decreasing access to Wroughton over the years and get the impression that they don't want the public in there. Whether that is because they would have to make changes to cover the H&S side of things or whether they just don't want us knowing what they've got I haven't a clue.
Profile picture for user Sabrejet

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9 years 7 months

Posts: 1,737

Discounting the obviously discontinued flying events, the Museum did recently hold a series of open days, where on successive days of the week, different parts of the site were open. I chanced upon going past on the day the aircraft hangars were open and managed to get a good look, pretty much on my own. I got the idea that such events were (deliberately?) not well-publicised, which sometimes is not a bad thing. I'd suggest writing direct to the Science Museum.
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16 years 7 months

Posts: 1,726

Did I read in the last year that one or more hangars were unsafe? True or not it is a good excuse to keep the public out. I went to a flyin there some years ago and as the OP says there were some gems there. mmitch.

Member for

8 years 10 months

Posts: 8

Went about four years ago, only one day a year open and I went hoping to see the Trident - sadly the hanger was roped off as parts of the concrete were unsafe, hangar D4 IIRC, managed to see the Connie though :-) There was a motorcycle sprint meeting on the runway at the same weekend if that helps? Muzzey

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5 years 8 months

Posts: 297

Its been slowly going down the gluggle since Ross Sharp left Wroughton to become Deputy Air Show co-ordinator at RAF Finningley.

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14 years 2 months

Posts: 318

Many thanks....much appreciated

Member for

10 years 9 months

Posts: 615

aaah Britain's hidden and forgotten museum! Unless you went to the regular events in the 80's and 90's your screwed! Wroughton was set up by John Bagley, a real enthusiast. He them moved on. Ross Sharp was also very pro open events and then he departed and the Science museum almost seemed embarrassed by the place. This place could have become the Duxford of the south!
Profile picture for user Jetflap

Member for

11 years 6 months

Posts: 361

Did I read in the last year that one or more hangars were unsafe?
They've been saying that for years - it was given as the reason for the hangars being closed in 1994 the only time I went there. Big disappointment, although the Great Warbirds Air Display was a joy!

Member for

11 years 9 months

Posts: 1,527

If the hangars are so unsafe that the public are not allowed in then surely they are also unsafe for the conservation of a National collection. I smell the misuse of H&S to cover the corporate (its not central London so who cares) lethargy that saw last years suggestions that MOSI or the National Railway museum(s) should close.

Member for

19 years 9 months

Posts: 3,208

The Science Museum have got themselves into a real mess. A management that seems unable to cope with current fiscal realities by doing anything other than threatening to close either NRM or MOSI or both, sucked into a financial black hole with the Flying Scotsman, no real clue what to do with Wroughton (whatever happened to the plan to turn it into some kind of solar farm?). A great shame. :(
Profile picture for user Planemike

Member for

11 years 9 months

Posts: 1,800

If the hangars are so unsafe that the public are not allowed in then surely they are also unsafe for the conservation of a National collection. I smell the misuse of H&S to cover the corporate (its not central London so who cares) lethargy that saw last years suggestions that MOSI or the National Railway museum(s) should close.
By resorting to quoting Health & Safety, Security, Political Correctness or Austerity virtually all/any progress or development can very effectively be inhibited. Call me cynical, or what ?!!!!

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19 years 9 months

Posts: 3,208

A management failure that there was no 'Plan B'

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16 years 2 months

Posts: 8,505

By resorting to quoting Health & Safety, Security, Political Correctness or Austerity virtually all/any progress or development can very effectively be inhibited. Call me cynical, or what ?!!!!
I'd say realistic rather than cynical. All have been used as cop outs to avoind doing things at some time.
Profile picture for user Meddle

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5 years 1 month

Posts: 1,613

I've not visited Wroughton, so I can only comment based on what I see online. This format of museum is, sadly, well out of fashion in this day and age. I base this opinion on the direction the Museum of Scotland, and to a lesser extent East Fortune, as gone as of late (museums in London appear to have gone down this route earlier). From the images I see it looks like nothing more than a large dimly lit shed with many exhibits crammed in with minimal interpretation. Everything is studiously roped off and its rural location ensures it isn't something you would just happen to stumble across unless you sought it out, though it is at least on a bus route apparently. All of this is bad for business really. The reported water ingress makes it sound even more dismal. I would personally love to see this collection in person, but looking at it objectively it is quite clearly a boring museum to all but a relatively select few. As I've said before, if your only draw is men of a certain age (I'm an outlier in this regard) and you can only afford to keep a skeleton staff to watch over a gargantuan collection across several gargantuan buildings then you can see why it might be going wrong. The 'museum' doesn't have any presence on Trip Advisor, Google hasn't clocked any reviews and even the sympathetic 'Aeroflight' page gives it a mere 3 out of 5 stars. I would be somewhat concerned about the long term welfare of the contents rather than postulate endlessly bitter 'what if' scenarios about the museum's leadership. Health and Safety and Security might be contributing factors here, I agree. I imagine there is a lot of metal for people to steal from the site, and the prospect of a leaky hangar slowly crumbling would probably raise a few eyebrows as well. You need only look at the smaller, better staffed museums that have had items stolen in the last year. I'm not sure about political correctness in this context. Who would be offended by a collection of random vehicles exactly? Cyclists? Austerity is probably the biggest single cause here, but then again what does the museum actually offer? A chance to view a Connie in a dingy hangar whilst water drips around you? It is a store, not a proper museum, and you can see why it is slowly being run into the ground. To save costs you cut staff, so the exhibits suffer. You then limit access to the site and therefore gather less money. You then cannot afford the repair bill when the roof starts leaking, which in turn means you have to limit access further. You then have to justify the importance of this museum back to the same public you exclude, which in this day and age means very little.

Member for

19 years 9 months

Posts: 3,208

I fear you have got the wrong end of the stick there Meddle. It never was intended as a 'museum' in itself as such, but an outstation of the Science Museum for large object storage. It was opened up for public viewing on a couple of weekends each year, in the same way that the Cobham Hall at Yeovilton and MBCC at Cosford are. It should not, therefore, be judged by the same curatorial standards as major collections open all year round.