Royal Air Force Museum

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Royal Air Force Museum's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Royal Air Force Museum is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Head of Marketing
HRH The Earl of Wessex viewing part of
RAF Stories: The First 100 Years 1918 – 2018
The Royal Air Force has shaped our nation and our society.
It has influenced how we live our lives today through
its impact on world events, society and technology. The
museum’s purpose is to tell the story of the RAF through its
people and collections. It is a national museum, a government
non-departmental public body and a registered charity. The
museum works closely with the RAF, its sponsor organisation
at the Ministry of Defence. It has two sites open to the public
at Colindale, northwest London, and Cosford, in the West
Midlands, plus a third site near Stafford that holds the museum’s
reserve collection. Head of Marketing Paul Hudson-Knight explains
how the museum offers a unique and memorable experience.
The RAF Museum is a place of storytelling and sharing. It reveals the fascinating
stories of serving RAF personnel, veterans, cadets and reserves. Innovative, accessible
exhibitions explore our rich collections of technological innovations, archive
documents, personal items and the heritage of our sites. The stories are drawn from
times of war and keeping the peace, at home and abroad. They include tales of
courage, fear, love, loss and laughter. Visitors are encouraged to discover these stories
through our galleries, across our sites and online – and to contribute their own.
A unique experience
Our vision is to ensure that the RAF’s story endures, enriches and inspires future
generations. Our team is guided by core values which support us as an organisation
»Head of Marketing:
»Established in 1968, opened
in 1972
»Based in Colindale, northwest
London, and Cosford, West
»Services: Two public sites
sharing the story of the RAF
and a reserve collection
»No. of employees: 220
Royal Air Force
Highlighting best practice
to act with integrity, share knowledge
freely, work with passion, take an
innovative approach, search for
relevance and strive for excellence.
The museum offers a unique insight
into the RAF story through our national
collection and through exploration
of the human stories that surround
it – stories of ordinary people doing
extraordinary things.
The RAF was established on 1 April
1918 in the final year of the First
World War, becoming the world’s first
independent air force. In 2018, the
museum has been a leading partner
in the RAF100 commemorations and
celebrations, reaching out nationally
and internationally to acknowledge
the contribution that so many people
have made through the service and to
inspire the next generation.
Progressing our cause
The museum welcomes around
725,000 visitors annually to our sites.
We are using our increased profile
in 2018 to build these numbers to
just under a million over the next 12
We have seized the once-in-a-
lifetime opportunity of the RAF’s
landmark anniversary to raise funds
for and deliver a multi-million-pound
transformation of our London site to
ensure that we are – and are known
to be – a museum that is engaging,
accessible and relevant for all.
An RAF Centenary Legacy Programme
will continue this development through
further capital and activity programmes
in both Cosford and London.
Surmounting obstacles
Our vision, purpose and major
programmes have all been developed
in response to wide-ranging
consultation with stakeholders,
partners, visitors and non-visitors.
Listening to their views about what
they want and need from their
national museum has resulted in the
recent major capital development of
our London site and organisation-
wide culture change. Their feedback
is now informing the future strategic
development of the museum.
The RAF Centenary Programme is
a five-year phased programme of
activities and capital development
designed to connect people to the RAF
story, transforming the RAF Museum’s
London site.
The programme, which has been
delivered on time and on budget,
includes the development of four
new exhibitions: ‘The First World War
Visitors using our
interactive debating
table in
RAF: First to the
The museum
annually to
our sites. We
are using our
profile in 2018
to build these
numbers to
just under a
million over
the next 12
in the Air’ which opened in 2014
(winning the Best Heritage Project in
the National Lottery Awards, 2015),
‘RAF Stories: The First 100 Years
1918 - 2018’, ‘The RAF in an Age of
Uncertainty 1980 - today’ and ‘RAF:
First to the Future’, which were opened
by HRH The Earl of Wessex on 30 June
2018. A smaller display of ‘RAF Stories’
has also been launched at Cosford.
These galleries are immersive learning
spaces and use innovative technology
to engage visitors of all backgrounds
and ages.
The exhibitions in London are
supported by a transformed visitor
experience which includes a new
learning centre, new landscaping
drawing on the heritage of The
London Aerodrome and RAF Hendon,
a new visitor centre including a café
and shop, a new themed outdoor play
area, and a new restaurant housed
in a previously derelict 1930s RAF
building at the heart of the site. This
physical re-development is making a
key contribution to the regeneration
of our local area, Colindale, as around
30,000 new residents arrive in the
next five years to an increasingly
Programmes have been designed to
deliver small object conservation skills
and workshop spaces, apprenticeships,
increased volunteering and STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering
and Maths) formal and informal
learning activities. Historic Hendon
projects are engaging our diverse
local community with the heritage of
A digital project, ‘RAF Stories’, has
been developed through which the
public are encouraged to create and
curate their own online scrapbooks
using photographs, memories, film
and audio recordings to share their
experiences or those of their loved
ones within the RAF and the broader
RAF family. These stories are shared
internationally online as well as being
embedded in our new exhibitions,
enhancing the museum’s storytelling.
These achievements have provided the
museum with a strong platform for
its further development, with lessons
learned directly informing continued
capital master planning.
The museum’s engagement locally,
nationally and internationally is made
possible by the funding we receive
from the UK Government. Our RAF
Centenary Programme was generously
supported by Trusts and Foundations,
statutory bodies, personal donations
and corporate partners. Significant
contributions were made by the
Heritage Lottery Fund, the LIBOR fund,
BAE Systems, the London Borough of
Barnet and the State of Kuwait.
The exhibitions
in London are
supported by a
visitor experience
which includes a
new learning
Franciszek Kornicki, the
“People’s Spitfire Pilot”,
underneath a MkVb
Spitfire in
RAF Stories:
The First 100 Years 1918
– 2018

This article was sponsored by Royal Air Force Museum. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister