THE Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust is now at an exciting moment of being able to deliver, in partnership with Bromley council, a long-wanted museum.
We want to update readers and thank them for their support, especially in light of a recent letter to this paper. The trust understands that the planning application will shortly be considered that will ensure that St George’s Chapel remains a “permanent shrine of remembrance to those who gave their lives for our freedom”.
Work could then start this autumn, and closing the site for one year will enable the museum to be opened during the commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
The museum scheme, which has attracted significant funding from central Government, enables a sustainable future for both the chapel and Biggin Hill’s important heritage, ensuring that the chapel will be conserved, and the site maintained to a high standard for all visitors for years to come with a professional team of staff.
The scheme enables worship to continue, prevents the chapel from closing, and is supported by church leaders. It also enables St George’s Room to continue as an exhibition space and accommodate extra seating at special events and services. The museum’s robust business plan has been scrutinised by experts in the field.
Biggin Hill led the world, shaping events during the Second World War as the leading fighter station in the Battle of Britain and laying the foundation for the Allied victory. A radar centre as well as an airfield, Biggin Hill became Churchill’s ‘strongest link’ not only for its strategic defensive role but for the resilience of those who worked there. As such, the site remains an icon for international audiences, and for many years the community has sought to recognise Biggin Hill through the building of a museum.
The design for the museum, and the removal of the 1990 annex, has been developed in light of the site’s historic significance and following four design review meetings with Historic England. The museum’s simple design is in the vein of a garden wall or cloisters, to encompass and protect, in deference to the chapel.
As with the previous heritage centre scheme which achieved planning permission, the trees, mainly leylandii, proposed to be removed will restore views, drawing in visitors and reconnecting it with the airfield. Additionally the museum development meets national and local green belt policy.
Consultation has been at the heart of the development process. Planning notices have been displayed, and the application reflects the outcome of consultation with 2,000 people, including with targeted groups, and the views of those who attended one of the four open days. In addition, local people have been able to follow progress through a variety of channels, reaching tens of thousands of people every month.
Please do visit our website www.bhmm.org.uk/ for facts and further detailed information about the project and important progress being made.
The Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust