Next time that you’re in the vicinity of Doncaster, make a visit to the South Yorkshire Air Museum * which is a few minutes drive from Junction 3 of the M18 – follow the signs for Doncaster along the A6182 and the small brown propeller signs along the way.
The Museum is part of Aeroventure and moved to the present site (formerly RAF Doncaster) in 2000. It was actually set up after WW2 on the site of RAF Firbeck which had started life as a private airfield in 1935. The owner of Firbeck Hall, Cyril Nicholson, who owned a chain of luxury hotels had renovated the Hall and had this airfield constructed. It enjoyed a high reputation before WW2, attracting the likes of the then Prince of Wales, Amy Johnson and Jim Mollison. The BBC also exploited its prestige by broadcasting music from there played by renowned dance orchestras. With the outbreak of war, private flying was stopped and the site became RAF Firbeck, catering mainly for small aircraft such as Lysanders and Austers.
The South Yorkshire Air Museum was developed when the site returned to private ownership and amongst the enthusiasts were members of the ROC, including Eric Becket who was Head Observer at 8/21 Post Whitwell. With the development of the Lakeside commercial and residential site near Doncaster, the chance came to relocate the Museum to its present site which was more accessible and gave room for expansion. The site includes sixty year old RAF buildings plus authentic RAF wooden huts.
In addition to a display of aircraft and helicopters (some inside the hangars),
there are is variety of complementary displays including engines, a WW2 Home
Front exhibition, the Sheffield Blitz and details and photographs of local
WW2 airfields. Some aircraft cockpits are always open for access.
As you would expect from the ROC involvement in the original museum, there is also an extensive ROC exhibition housed in a separate building.
The Museum entrance/exit houses a well stocked shop which stocks, amongst other things, an extensive range of plastic aircraft kits.
Information for visits:
Open Wednesday to Sunday all year – 10 am to 5 pm (4 pm 1/11 to 31/3)
Address – Dakota Way, Doncaster, DN4 7FB (01302 761616)
e-mail – email@example.com
Official Opening of Revamped ROC Museum at Aeroventure
Secretary Ashbourne Section CROCA
* Not to be confused with the Yorkshire Air Museum near York