Manston: 100 Years of Flight Project

As part of the RAF Manston Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum’s first ever Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) project, they aimed to celebrate, commemorate and promote RAF Manston’s unique history. As an airfield it has seen over 100 years of continuous use by aircraft as well as the pioneers, warriors and enthusiasts that flew those aircraft from Manston. It is the museum’s enduring hope that as a result of this project, people will learn about their heritage by understanding RAF Manston’s rich history. This project has also allowed local people of all ages to learn key skills that make volunteering all the more rewarding. We hope that this project will instil a sense of pride and belonging for people in Thanet as they engage with, and are inspired by their local history.

It is well known that Manston’s future is far from certain but thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, dedicated partners and committed volunteers, the Spitfire Museum is now able to help preserve the history and memory of RAF Manston for all our visitors to enjoy for many years to come.

The project has seen development in three key areas:

Banners: The museum, supported by the HLF created a series of five banners each covering key events and dates from Manston’s rich history. These will be routinely displayed at museum events and are also available to display on loan, free of charge to any organisations such as libraries and charities in their communities or at special events. If you can suggest or offer a location that these could be displayed, please contact Matt Demedts, the museum’s Manager.

The banners are accompanied by a leaflet containing learning activities and quiz questions.

Oral Histories: One of the interesting things about the Second World War is that we as a society still have direct access to those brave men and women, civilian and military, who saw service in defence of our country from 1939-45. Sadly though, as time marches on, those people are becoming fewer in number. In order to capture their fascinating stories, HLF funding has also allowed the museum to start training volunteers in the recording of oral histories which will allow us to capture people’s wartime memories and preserve them in our collection so that future generations will always be able to hear, first hand, what life was like in and around Thanet during the Second World War.

Website: Finally, the advances of IT over the recent years have made history and learning accessible to a far wider range of people. As part of the 100 Years of Flight at Manston Project, extra details from some of the key events highlighted by the banners are available in a sub-site of the “History of Manston Airfield” website We hope that those local people who have direct memories of or information will be encouraged to contact the website and share that information and their memories of Manston. We hope that the resources you find here will be educational and enlightening but, above all, enjoyable. The site also contains the answers to the education leaflet quiz questions.

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