Saturday 28th May 2016 Return to Alumni Events
Richard Shuttleworth was born into wealth in 1909 as his family owned estates in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire and an agricultural machinery business in Lincolnshire. However his father died when Richrd was aged 2 and his mother took over the estates and trained him to take over when he was 23. In the meantime he was educated at Eton College where he excelled in the College School of Mechanics and, after leaving Eton prematurely, he went to Sandhurst before joining the 15th/5th Lancers which he left when he inherited the family wealth. Already he had started to collect vintage cars and using his wealth he also began to take part in the new sport of motor racing, driving Buggatis and Alfa Romeo. It was in the latter that he won the International Donnington Grand Prix, the first Grand Prix in this country. This aspect of his life was terminated by a very serious crash in the South African Grand Prix in 1936. He was not expected to survive but did which gave him the opportunity to get involved into aviation both as a pilot and a mechanic. He and a friend flew 6,000 miles to take part in the Viceroy Trophy Race in India within a year. He based his new collection of aircraft at a private airfield at Old Warden. When the Second World War began Richard volunteered for the RAF and was accepted, but a few days before he was due to join, he was killed when his Fairey Battle aircraft crashed. His mother took over again and continued collecting in his name and on her death left a large legacy for the continuation of the collection which continues to today. It was at Old Warden Airfield that the DCS group met in the tea room with their guide, Mr Hyde.
Our tour started in the Engineering Workshops where, we were told, the Collection employs 10 full-time engineers who both repair the aircraft and check them for air-worthiness. Almost all the collection still fly - that is most of 3 huge hangars full of aircraft including a Blériot XI, dating from 1909, the world’s oldest airworthy aircraft! Our time in the workshops was quite fascinating and perhaps with the hindsight of seeing the huge collection, the most impressive part of the operation.
From the workshops we moved in to the collection which apart from aircraft with engines included early gliders such as the 1895 Lilienthal Gliders, may old cars back to 1898 "Dogcarts", old motorbikes like the 1900 Singer Motor Wheel as well as some old agricultural machinery. However it was the aeroplanes that dominated both in terms of numbers and types from the Sopwiths from the early 1900's up to the early 1960"s. It included famous individual aircraft like the DH88 Comet, which won the MacRobertson air race from England to Australia in 1934, Second World planes incding Spitfires, Hurricanes as well as German, American and Russian planes together with amazing collections of the tools and extras used to make them fly.
We had started at 10.45 a.m. and left for lunch at about 12.45 which disappointed our guide as he told us that his average tour was 3 hours, but there was so much to take in that a rest was very helpful. Some of our party had already promised themselves to go back another day and others came back in the afternoon to browse once again.
Lunch was at an old public house named The Cock at Broom which serves beer, fabulously kept beer, from the cellar only and also serves food, both of which were gratefully ordered and which was served in a reserved section all of which made for good conversation. Our thanks go both to the public house and our guide and we all decided to recomend others to visit the Collection which was certainly a trip to remember.
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Pictures by Tania and Michael Elliott (Click on the pictures for larger versions)