We speak to visitor services manager Rachel Chivers about the exciting developments happening at Aerospace Bristol.
How would you describe Aerospace Bristol for first time visitors?
The city of Bristol has an illustrious aviation history - from some of the earliest aeroplanes to iconic aircraft such as Concorde. Did you know that every British Concorde was designed, built and first flew from Filton Airfield to the north of Bristol? Aerospace Bristol celebrates that remarkable heritage.
Set across two hangars, including a Grade II listed World War Two aircraft hangar, the museum tells the story of Bristol aerospace achievements, including aeroplanes, helicopters, engines, guided weapons and even space technology, such as satellites and rockets. It is an exhibition that spans more than a century, exploring our social history over the decades and telling the story of ordinary people who achieved extraordinary things.
The star attraction is Concorde Alpha Foxtrot. Stunningly displayed in her own purpose-built hangar, visitors can step aboard Concorde, explore the aircraft and enjoy fantastic audio-visual shows projected on to the side of the supersonic jet.
Aerospace Bristol is clearly popular with groups (it was a finalist in the Best Museum category at last year’s GLT Awards), what are the main benefits?
Aerospace Bristol is a relatively new museum - we only opened in October 2017. So, if you haven’t brought a group yet, it’s a chance to experience a totally new and unique attraction.
One of the most appealing parts of a group visit to Aerospace Bristol is the chance to enjoy a tour with an expert guide and speak to our team of volunteers, many of whom are retired engineers, with fascinating insights and anecdotes to share.
We also make the logistics of your visit very easy, taking away the stress of organising your day. From the moment you contact us, we’ll do everything we can to make sure your day runs smoothly. We’re located just a few minutes off the motorway, we have a free car park with hundreds of spaces and ample coach parking, plus a fantastic café and shop.
We understand you have two new tours, could you tell us about those?
That’s right. We now offer the Concorde Tour and the Heritage Tour.
The Concorde Tour is a chance to learn about the supersonic superstar that is Concorde, just across the runway from where all British Concordes were built. As you walk around the last Concorde to be built and the last to fly, we’ll take you on a journey all the way from Concorde’s beginnings in the 1950s to its retirement in 2003. Your group will learn about many of its engineering triumphs, record breaking achievements and the social history of those who flew and worked on Concorde.
The Heritage Tour is a journey through more than 100 years of Bristol’s aerospace history. Along the way, you’ll find out how a small, pioneering company manufactured some of the earliest aeroplanes at Filton, evolved over the decades to influence the course of aviation history and shaped the world we see today. With an expert guide and our stunning collection as a backdrop, discover how Bristol changed the world.
Are there any other exciting developments for groups to look out for?
Clearly, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on all museums and forced their temporary closure in line with government instructions. Aerospace Bristol is no exception and as we speak, the museum is temporarily closed. But, we’re still taking group bookings for later this year and looking forward to our grand re-opening!
“Aerospace Bristol celebrates British triumphs through many times of adversity - from the World Wars to the Cold War - and I can’t think of any better destination to choose as a first group day following the Coronavirus disruption than our museum.”
Looking further ahead, we’re working on an exciting project to open another Grade II listed hangar on the museum site. Once open, the building will be a conservation-in-action workshop, where groups can see our volunteers working on aircraft conservation and restoration projects.
What tips do you have for groups to make the most of their visit?
I’d highly recommend including a tour as part of your visit. Each of our guides has a different story to tell, so you’ll hear fascinating anecdotes and facts that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Some of our volunteer tour guides worked their entire careers in the aviation industry in Filton and they have a wealth of knowledge to share.
And, of course, you must leave time for a trip to the café. There’s an incredible range of freshly baked cakes which shouldn’t be missed and a cappuccino with our own supersonic twist. You may be on a flight through history, but what we offer is definitely a lot better than your typical ‘in flight meal’!
You must get lots of positive feedback, what are the main points made by groups?
The number one comment we get is about our fantastic volunteers and staff. They really are hugely welcoming, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I can guarantee that everyone you meet at Aerospace Bristol will do everything they possibly can to provide your group with a day out they’ll never forget.