As part of our 2008 Summer programme, we visited Stafford where the collection has been housed since 2000 after being moved from Cardington.. It really is an Aladdin’s Cave, with items raging from nearly complete Spitfires to single ROC badges (the original patterns for all those ever used) and single buttons.
Our guide was the Manager, Ian Alder, who not only explained the function of the depot, including research and cataloguing, but also brought to our attention and explained selected items which he thought would be of particular interest to us.
The Spitfires are part of the “trading stock” which, I gather, can be used for mutually beneficial exchanges. Other aircraft on show are a Percival Proctor and the framework of a Fairey Swordfish. There is also a comprehensive collection of bombs and missiles, ejector seats and large objects such as a lifeboat which could be dropped from a Shackleton and floats from various seaplanes including a Sunderland. On one of the storage racks is a rather well worn desk – well worn by the famous Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris.
Another item which at first sight appeared to be rather insignificant was a short aluminium ladder from a crashed aircraft. This however has great historical significance since the last person to use it was Rudolph Hess when he climbed into his Me 110 on 10 May 1941 for his flight to England.
There is also a vast collection of service uniforms kept under ideal conditions in a separate store and we were fortunate to see two contrasting items – a WW2 uniform for a humble Observer and the No.1 uniform of HM King George V!.
Research is an important function of the collection - one indication is a rack of selected aircraft wings. This enables aircraft restorers/rebuilders to supplement any blueprints they may have by studying the actual objects for the construction methods used.
One of our best visits ever – many thanks Ian.
Secretary Ashbourne Section CROCA