Battle of Britain 80: IWM Duxford set to reopen

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:11 19 July 2020

IWM Duxford is synonymous with the Supermarine Spitfire as the first RAF base to fly these fighter aircraft during the Second World War. This airworthy Spitfire is housed in the newly refreshed Battle of Britain Exhibition. Picture: © IWM (CH 1406)

IWM Duxford is synonymous with the Supermarine Spitfire as the first RAF base to fly these fighter aircraft during the Second World War. This airworthy Spitfire is housed in the newly refreshed Battle of Britain Exhibition. Picture: © IWM (CH 1406)

© IWM (CH 1406)

IWM Duxford is set to reopen next month ahead of the museum’s Battle of Britain 80 commemorations.

Social distancing measures will be put in place at the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show on September 18-20 to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. Picture: IWM / David Mackey.Social distancing measures will be put in place at the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show on September 18-20 to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. Picture: IWM / David Mackey.

The Imperial War Museums site in Cambridgeshire will welcome back visitors in August with a packed programme of events.

Today – Friday, July 10 – marks 80 years since the German Luftwaffe began its long series of air attacks, signifying the start of the Battle of Britain.

Having been closed for more than four months, IWM Duxford will be reopening its doors on Saturday, August 1.

Europe’s largest air museum offers visitors the chance to tread the same ground as the young fighter pilots and operational staff of 1940 at this former sector station.

You can also participate in a season of new exhibitions and events to commemorate the Battle of Britain 80 years on.

Wing Commander Alfred B 'Woody' Woodhall, RAF Duxford's station commander and fighter controller, September 1940. Woodhall's monocle will be on display in the new exhibition space The Ops Block: Battle of Britain at IWM Duxford, opening on September 15, 2020. Picture: © IWM (CH 1386)Wing Commander Alfred B 'Woody' Woodhall, RAF Duxford's station commander and fighter controller, September 1940. Woodhall's monocle will be on display in the new exhibition space The Ops Block: Battle of Britain at IWM Duxford, opening on September 15, 2020. Picture: © IWM (CH 1386)

Visitor numbers to the historic site will be limited to ensure the safety of staff and the public.

Those looking to visit should book tickets online in advance for an allocated time.

IWM members will receive access to priority booking from today – Friday, July 10 – with public bookings opening on Wednesday, July 15.

There will be a number of new exhibitions opening over the coming months for tourists to admire.

Originally scheduled to open in July, The Ops Block: Battle of Britain will now open on September 15 – the anniversary of the day the Battle of Britain reached its climax.

Pilots of No. 19 and No. 616 Squadrons pose alongside a Spitfire at Fowlmere, on September 21 1940. Sitting on wing (left to right) are Squadron Leader Brian 'Sandy' Lane (CO 19 Sqn), Flight Sergeant George 'Grumpy' Unwin and Francis Brinsden, with Flash the Alsatian and Rangy the Spaniel. Front row (left to right) are Sergeant Bernard 'Jimmy' Jennings, Flight Lieutenant Colin MacFie (616 Sqn), Squadron Leader Howard Burton (CO 616 Squadron) and Pilot Officer Philip Leckrone (616 Sqn). Picture: © IWM (CH 1400)Pilots of No. 19 and No. 616 Squadrons pose alongside a Spitfire at Fowlmere, on September 21 1940. Sitting on wing (left to right) are Squadron Leader Brian 'Sandy' Lane (CO 19 Sqn), Flight Sergeant George 'Grumpy' Unwin and Francis Brinsden, with Flash the Alsatian and Rangy the Spaniel. Front row (left to right) are Sergeant Bernard 'Jimmy' Jennings, Flight Lieutenant Colin MacFie (616 Sqn), Squadron Leader Howard Burton (CO 616 Squadron) and Pilot Officer Philip Leckrone (616 Sqn). Picture: © IWM (CH 1400)

This exhibition will grant the public access to newly transformed and previously unseen historic Second World War rooms.

Visitors to Britain’s best-preserved Second World War airfield can step foot into the former nerve centre of RAF Duxford to discover accounts of those who lived and worked there.

They can also immerse themselves in a multi-sensory recreation of the Ops Room, experiencing the tension felt on the ground on September 15, 1940.

You will be able to explore three dedicated ‘people stories’ rooms and learn about the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, controllers and pilots who served at RAF Duxford.

The newly transformed Battle of Britain Exhibition in Hangar 4 will also reopen on September 15, featuring iconic World War Two aircraft, interactive displays and Duxford-specific stories.

Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) plotters in the Sector 'G' Operations Room at RAF Duxford, receiving reports of enemy aircraft plots from Observer Corps posts, September 1940. Picture: © IWM (CH 1404)Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) plotters in the Sector 'G' Operations Room at RAF Duxford, receiving reports of enemy aircraft plots from Observer Corps posts, September 1940. Picture: © IWM (CH 1404)

The exhibition will also explore Duxford’s shared history with the Supermarine Spitfire as the base of the first operational Spitfire squadron.

An airworthy Spitfire will be displayed in the hangar, while a replica, positioned outside between the hangar and newly opened Ops Block, will complete the visitor experience.

Despite the cancellation of two air shows earlier in the year, IWM Duxford’s annual Battle of Britain Air Show will be taking place as planned on Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20.

With tickets now limited in order to ensure social distancing, Duxford Battle of Britain Proms has been added to the event schedule on Friday, September 18 with afternoon flying entertainment followed by a concert featuring The D-Day Darlings.

On the ground, there will be vintage fairground activities and market stalls, military vehicle displays, bunting workshops, flight line walks and plenty of music and dancing.

This year's Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show on September 18-20 will feature flying historic aircraft including the German Luftwaffe fighters, the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Picture: IWMThis year's Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show on September 18-20 will feature flying historic aircraft including the German Luftwaffe fighters, the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Picture: IWM

Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs and other remarkable aircraft will take to the skies for spectacular flying displays and sunset flypasts.

As one of the only air shows taking place in the UK this year, Duxford’s Battle of Britain Air Show is a summer must-see in this commemorative anniversary year.

This summer and autumn will also see IWM Duxford host a number of new Battle of Britain events and activities including bespoke tours, photography workshops and panel discussions.

Highlights include the Life and Death in the Battle of Britain walking tour with Carl Warner.

The IWM historian will provide an insight into the psychological pressures young fighter pilots faced in the summer of 1940.

The latest instalment in IWM's Wartime Classics fiction series, Squadron Airborne by Elleston Trevor - author of The Flight of the Phoenix - is set for publication on September 10. It is available to buy at IWM gift shops and at shop.iwm.org.uk. Picture: IWMThe latest instalment in IWM's Wartime Classics fiction series, Squadron Airborne by Elleston Trevor - author of The Flight of the Phoenix - is set for publication on September 10. It is available to buy at IWM gift shops and at shop.iwm.org.uk. Picture: IWM

A panel discussion with author, historian and broadcaster James Holland is also planned.

There is also the chance to sit in the cockpit of an airworthy Mk1a Spitfire or gain after-hours access to the site for Battle of Britain 80: The Night Shoot for an opportunity to capture Duxford’s historic buildings and airfield through your camera lens.

To coincide with this momentous anniversary, IWM Shop is launching a new range of Battle of Britain inspired products which will be available to purchase online and in the new Battle of Britain gift shop at IWM Duxford.

Items include a luxury, leather holdall with Spitfire lining, a Spitfire fountain pen made from the metal of a 1940 Battle of Britain Spitfire ‘P7350’ and an exclusive limited-edition W T Author No 1940 watch, inspired by aircraft gauges of the Battle of Britain era.

IWM will also be releasing its seventh title in its Wartime Classics fiction series, Squadron Airborne by Elleston Trevor, author of The Flight of the Phoenix.

IWM is launching a new range of retail products to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, available to buy at IWM gift shops or at shop.iwm.org.uk. Items include a luxury, leather holdall with a Spitfire lining design. Picture: IWMIWM is launching a new range of retail products to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, available to buy at IWM gift shops or at shop.iwm.org.uk. Items include a luxury, leather holdall with a Spitfire lining design. Picture: IWM

Set for publication on September 10, this fast-paced novel has been brought back into print by IWM and focuses on one week at a fictional fighter station during the height of the Battle of Britain, inspired by the author’s personal experience as an RAF engineer.

To mark the Battle of Britain 80th anniversary, IWM will also be working with partners to proactively loan from its rich art collection for the first time, thanks to the generous support of the Art Fund.

Three Battle of Britain artworks will be displayed at four distinctive venues, alongside unique works from the museum’s partners’ collections, with each display exploring and illustrating a different and locally-relevant perspective on Second World War aviation.

From August, ‘An Aerial Battle’ by Francis Dodd, ‘Squadron Leader G L Denholm, DFC’ by Thomas Cantrell Dugdale, and ‘Untitled’ by Eileen Agar will tour between Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth, the Harris, Preston, The Collection in Lincoln and Touchstones Rochdale.

As the Battle of Britain raged in the skies in the summer of 1940, a range of artists were quick to record and interpret this vital event, many of whom were commissioned by the War Artist Advisory Committee.

Caps such as this, which will be on display in The Ops Block: Battle of Britain, were worn by women who served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). This new exhibition space will open at IWM Duxford on September 15. Women played a pivotal role in the air force, including plotting flight paths during battle. Picture: © IWM (UNI 8495)Caps such as this, which will be on display in The Ops Block: Battle of Britain, were worn by women who served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). This new exhibition space will open at IWM Duxford on September 15. Women played a pivotal role in the air force, including plotting flight paths during battle. Picture: © IWM (UNI 8495)

Highlights from IWM’s collection include ‘Battle of Britain’ by Paul Nash, ‘Fitters Working on a Spitfire’ by Raymond McGrath and ‘Corporal J. D. M. Pearson GC, WAAF’, by Laura Knight, which is displayed in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at IWM London.

For more, visit iwm.org.uk

For tickets for the Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show at IWM Duxford from September 18-20 visit www.iwm.org.uk/airshows

Francis Dodd's 1940 masterpiece ‘An Aerial Battle’ depicts trails of an aircraft circling in a large expanse of sky, without apparent sight of the aeroplanes themselves. Usually housed within IWM's art collection, this painting along with two others will tour the UK to mark the Battle of Britain anniversary. Picture: © IWM Art.IWM ART LD 485Francis Dodd's 1940 masterpiece ‘An Aerial Battle’ depicts trails of an aircraft circling in a large expanse of sky, without apparent sight of the aeroplanes themselves. Usually housed within IWM's art collection, this painting along with two others will tour the UK to mark the Battle of Britain anniversary. Picture: © IWM Art.IWM ART LD 485


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