Biggin Hill Memorial Museum given the green light

Published Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The proposal to bring forward a Memorial Museum at Biggin Hill has received planning approval.

The new museum will commemorate the significant contribution Biggin Hill made in the First and Second World Wars, particularly in the Battle of Britain as Churchill’s ‘Strongest Link’. It also incorporates, and will provide a sustainable future for, St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance at Biggin Hill. 

The new contemporary museum which was endorsed by both Bromley Planning Officers and Historic England, is a sensitive design that will wrap around the Chapel in the vein of a garden wall or cloisters. The scheme will ensure that St George’s Chapel remains a “permanent shrine of remembrance to those who gave their lives for our freedom”, and that Biggin Hill’s heritage is protected and revealed. The museum will tell the story of the people and place of Biggin Hill during the World Wars. The experiences of both ‘The Few’ and The Many will be revealed, from the fighter pilots facing the realities of aerial combat, the local pub landlady creating a sense of normality, to local children scavenging the crash sites. 

Councillor Stephen Carr, Leader of Bromley Council, said: “Working in partnership with the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust, the long held vision for a museum at Biggin Hill has taken a major step forward. The story of Churchill’s ‘Strongest Link’ will be told to future generations at the place it actually happened and we will remember all those who served there.” 

Bruce Walker, Chairman of the Trust said, “This is enormously positive news. We can now firmly focus on finally building the Memorial Museum that so many want to see. We are hopeful that construction will start later this year so that the Museum can open in time to be part of commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The museum will be a permanent and fitting tribute and crucially, a place for reflection and learning, alongside the continued worship at St George’s Chapel.

Councillor Lydia Buttinger, Chairman of Plans-SubCommittee said, “This application has seen a huge amount of public interest and a strong community commitment to ensuring a lasting tribute to commemorate the fallen. The approval of the plans will now allow the final funding to be secured and officers will work closely with the applicant to ensure that the materials used and landscaping are to the highest quality, reflecting both the historic importance of the site and the sensitive location in the Greenbelt.” 

Biggin Hill led world shaping events during the Second World War as the leading fighter station in the Battle of Britain, which was instrumental to Britain becoming the first nation in history to retain its freedom through air power. This victory in turn offered hope to resistance movements and led to Anglo-American cooperation, laying the foundation for the Allied victory in the Second World War and the European landscape in the second half of the 20th Century. The Chapel was built in 1951 following a fundraising campaign championed by Churchill who lived nearby at Chartwell. The wooden floor is made from slats of sectioned propeller blades. The 12 stained glass windows are designed by Hugh Easton’s studio (responsible for the Battle of Britain window at Westminster Abbey). 

ENDS 

Editor’s notes:

  • Further information about Biggin Hill Memorial Museum is available by going to http://www.bhmm.org.uk/
  • The museum scheme proposal ensures that the Chapel will be conserved, with the site maintained to a high standard for visitors, with a professional team of staff. The scheme is supported by Church leaders and enables worship to continue, with the St George’s Room being able to be used as an exhibition space and accommodate extra seating at special events and services. The planning application followed extensive consultation and enables a sustainable future for both the Chapel and Biggin Hill’s important heritage.
  • The next milestone for the project is the final Heritage Lottery Fund £2m grant decision in June 2017. Assuming a positive outcome the building works will commence October 2017.
  • For media enquiries, please contact Andrew Rogers, Communications Executive, on 020 8461 7670 or email andrew.rogers@bromley.gov.uk