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Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, Montrose

Categories: History Museums, Museums
Inspirock Rating:
4.6/5 based on 110+ reviews on the web
The Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre is located to the North of Montrose, Angus, Scotland. Montrose has the distinction of having the first operational military airfield in Great Britain and the Heritage Centre is located on the former airfield. It aims to show the human side of its history with a collection of contemporary photographs, artefacts and memorabilia. These not only tell of the history of the airfield but also the story of the men and women who served there and those who lived in the area.The Air Station Heritage Centre is run by the Ian McIntosh Memorial Trust and is a registered Scottish charitable organisation. It is self-financing, relying on visitors fees and donations together with grants from local government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The centre receives no regular financial support from local or national government.HistoryThe airfield was first opened on 1913 when five aircraft of No.2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps arrived. Montrose became the first operational military airfield in Great Britain and first military airfield in Scotland.The air station closed in 1920 but was reopened in 1935 for use in the Second World War. After the war the airfield continued to be used as a maintenance unit until it closed on 4 June 1952.In 1983 a group of local enthusiast banded together to ensure that the history of Montrose Air Station would not be forgotten. A local man, Ian McIntosh, established the Montrose Air Station Heritage Trust, now known as the Ian McIntosh Memorial Trust and money was raised by the Montrose Aerodrome Museum Society.
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  • We visited because we had no idea that there had been an RAF station at Montrose. For a small volunteer run museum this place far exceeded our expectations. Loads of interesting information with a goo...  read more »
  • Spent an afternoon at the museum. Lots of information on the history of the station. Plenty to watch and read. You also get the chance to dress up, touch or pick up items. Enthusiastic, helpful, frien...  read more »
  • Our interest was primarily in the Royal Flying Corps and early days of the RAF, and we were amazed at the exhibits which the all-volunteer members had put together. The RFC hangar holds some fascinati...  read more »
  • From the outside, Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre looks a fairly humble endeavour. It is located in some of the original wooden and corrugated steel buildings which formed part of the air station formed way back in 1913. The surrounding area, which in its heyday formed the airfield, has been built up over the years and now some pretty unattractive industrial units surround and overshadow the air station. Don’t be put off by its back-street location and lack of razzamatazz. Inside, the museum is a relevation. This a great place to visit whilst in Montrose. It is of interest to all age groups from young kids keen to learn about Montrose's place in the history of aviation, or just keen on aeroplanes, to older people who can revisit the days of their youth. My husband and I took our 8 year-old grandson [a would-be pilot of the future and reveller in all things military] for what we imagined [from the outside] would be a brief visit. Some two hours later we emerged fired with enthusiasm and resolved to return just a few days later when the museum was to have an open weekend to promote the attraction generally and, in particular, to celebrate the arrival of their latest acquisition, a full-sized Spitfire replica which now dominates the entrance to the museum and its sheer diminutive beauty somehow manages to take the eye away from the stockpiles of materials in the adjoining builders’ merchants. The second visit was a great day out because there were air displays and many planes flown in specially for the occasion. The weather was also spectacular! Now, most people visiting will not enjoy the benefit of the air displays and all the extra attractions of that day but they will still enjoy the basic offerings of wartime memorabilia and realistic time-settings - typical forties living room, pilots' quarters, etc. The greatest feature of the exhibition is the amount of 'hands-on' attractions for youngsters. So many museums forbid touching and feeling - and it's perfectly understandable that they want to protect their exhibits - but such a policy does detract a little from the experience. In Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre there are very few such prohibitions. Indeed, kids are positively encouraged to have a hands-on experience - trying on uniforms, handling helmets, guns, climbing on armoured vehicles, winding the wartime sirens. There's also a classroom area with games and activities and a flight simulator to experience flying a Spitfire or a Lancaster, etc. There are exhibits aplenty to keep kids amused for a long time. Best of all for the kids is that admission is free and the charge for accompanying adults is only £5 with concessions available too. The Centre is staffed by volunteers who are only too keen to tell the visitors anything they want to know and, in our experience, they were particularly keen to interact with the children. There is also a shop where you can buy lots of toys, models, etc. to remember your day. The prices in the shop are good too! Being operated entirely by volunteers, there is clearly a limit to what they can do but one thing that they really should consider is the opening of a small cafe to provide drinks and snacks for visitors and to boost their revenue. I don't know if they have the space or the inclination but I believe that it would add to the appeal of what is a great attraction in Montrose. All credit to the volunteers; they do a great job and deserve as much support as they can get!
  • Absolutely wonderful museum,. Staffed by dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain and improve the exhibitions. I've been several times and still want to back for more. I was astonished by the multitude of fascinating personal memorabilia they have amassed.
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