On Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 February 2023, the prestigious British aircraft institution ‘The Shuttleworth Collection’ will be opening the doors to its engineering workshop; allowing members of the public a “unique opportunity to explore the hallowed Shuttleworth Collection engineering workshops”.
Based in Bedfordshire, England, the Shuttleworth Collection was founded in 1928 by Richard Shuttleworth: pilot, racing driver, self-taught mechanic and heir to the Old Warden estate. A passionate aviator, Richard Shuttleworth would ‘rescue’ old aircraft with the intention of returning them to flight; a mission his mother, Dorothy, continued after his untimely death in 1940. Some 95 years later, in keeping with its founder’s original intention, the Collection continues to “operate, maintain, rebuild and restore” a diverse and unique selection of vintage aircraft spanning the Edwardian era through to the 1950s. (Among the impressive additions to the Shuttleworth collection is the 1909 Bleriot XI, the world’s oldest flying aircraft, and one which regularly takes to the sky during summer airshows.)
The Engineering Workshop Open Weekend will be hosted by Deputy Chief Engineer and Shuttleworth veteran of 52 years, Andy Preslent, who will be joined by the organization’s professional and volunteer engineers. These “uniquely skilled and experienced teams” will be on hand throughout the weekend to answer questions and offer insights into their unique work.
Alongside the chance to better understand how “[Shuttleworth’s] engineers keep everything, from the world’s oldest airworthy airplane to a WW2 Supermarine Spitfire and its mighty Merlin engine flying,” visitors will have the opportunity to learn how a piston engine works, find out about the fuel and oil used (and how it’s obtained), and generally, explore the workshop in their own time. The Discovery Team and Engineering Apprentice will be offering ‘hands-on’ experience of a variety of historical construction techniques including wing rib construction, STIXX fuselage construction, wire locking, and tapping and dyeing. The Heritage Team will also be on hand to offer insight into wood restoration and the process of building from period plans.
Alongside its aviation projects, the Collection also cares for a number of vintage and veteran cars, which – along with a variety of bicycles and steam-powered vehicles – will be able to offer working demonstrations (subject to suitable weather conditions).
The Engineering Open Workshop is a ticketed event (please note: 30-day tickets and memberships are not valid on either day) and is available in advance here, or at the gate subject to availability. The ‘Spitfire Sit-In Experience’ (for which a separate ticket is required) can also be booked via this page.
More information about the Shuttleworth Collection can be found here.