The nation came together, even when forced apart by lockdown, to remember the end of war in Europe and mark 75 years since VE Day.
The Queen said the message of VE Day is “never give up, never despair”, remembering the sacrifices of the Second World War generation in a poignant speech.
She said their lasting legacy “is that countries who were once sworn enemies are now friends, working side by side for the peace, health and prosperity of us all”.
Despite swathes of events and swarming parades being cancelled because of the coronavirus lockdown, the UK found ways to come together to pay tribute to those who served in the era-defining global conflict.
The day began with a national two minute silence at 11am, which gave Britons the opportunity to pause and reflect, remembering the lives lost and sacrifices made in wartime.
Then the RAF’s Red Arrows also roared over parts of the UK, in a special flypast to mark the anniversary.
Following the Queen’s speech, people were invited to open their doors and windows and take part in singalong of Dame Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”, which has once again become a symbol of hope for Britons during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thank you and goodnight
Despite swathes of events and swarming parades being cancelled because of the coronavirus lockdown, the UK still found ways to come together for the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Before we sign off for the night, here is a round-up of how people across the nation honoured those who served in the Second World War.
‘Never give up, never despair’
The Queen reminded Britain to “never give up, never despair” in a moving message to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, speaking with pride to a nation she said Second World War heroes would still “recognise and admire”.
The monarch, who delivered a special address at 9pm – just as her father had done at the end of fighting in Europe – said she “vividly” remembered the “jubilant scenes” that had marked triumph after the bleak uncertainty of war.
As the nation commemorated the anniversary in lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis, she paid tribute to the strength, courage and sacrifice of so many who died for the freedom of others, saying: “We should and will remember them.”
Queen’s message resonates during lockdown
The Queen’s message to the nation as part of the VE Day anniversary celebrations will resonate with the public amid the coronavirus pandemic, a royal expert has said.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said of the address: “This is as relevant today as it is for the occasion it’s commemorating 75 years ago.”
He added: “The Queen is the only surviving head of state to have served during the Second World War and this is an appropriate reaction to something that is so personal to her.”
The Queen tells of how the message on VE Day in 1945 was: “Never give up, never despair.”
“It very much resonates with the situation we find ourselves in right now,” Mr Little said. “There are some remarkable similarities, where the Queen says ‘Never give up, never despair’.
“That was the message of VE Day but really that message can be applied to the present day. So clearly that must be what she had in mind when this was being drafted.”
We’ll Meet Again
Following the Queen’s address, people were invited to stand on their doorsteps and sing Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’.
The song has once again become a symbol of hope for Britons during the coronavirus pandemic.
When VE Day dawns on 8th May 2020 it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the war in Europe. Years of carnage and destruction had come to an end and millions of people took to the streets and pubs to celebrate peace, mourn their loved – ones and to hope for the future, but not forgetting those still in conflict until 15th August when it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II.
The 75th anniversary will provide our nation, and our friends around the world, with an opportunity to reflect on the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination of people from all walks of life who saw us through this dark and terrifying period. To commemorate this important time we are organising VE Day 75, a three-day international celebration that will take place from 8th May to 10th May 2020.
It will be an opportunity for us all to remember the enormous sacrifices that were made at home and abroad and to joyously celebrate as people did 75 years ago, the arrival of peace in Europe.
Stanhope Arms’ regulars in Brasted are currently attempting to buy the pub from current owners Greene King and run it as a community pub. As part of the process, a short online survey is currently open, to gauge the level of support for the venture and collect views on the kind of pub that people want to see.
At the same time, the community group is looking to raise money to purchase the freehold and getting it ready to open for business through a community share issue. Anyone with an interest in the Stanhope – and with an interest in being a part-owner of a pub! – is welcome to complete the online survey. Anyone wanting more information, including about the share issue, is welcome to email the community group at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Stanhope Arms was part of the original Black Eagle Brewery’s pub estate until the brewery’s closure in 1965
If you want to book tickets right away and don’t want to scroll down to find a link, head on over to the official ticket sales website now.
Since the 1960s, the Biggin Hill airshow was a defining part of every summer for local residents and the skies were always filled with a huge variety of different aircraft.
At one time, The Biggin Hill International Air Show (or Biggin Hill Festival of Flight as it’s now known) was one of the biggest airshows in the world, and certainly the biggest one of its kind in Europe. However, things came to an abrupt end in 2010 and the summer skies over Biggin Hill became much quieter as a result.
Fortunately, a much-needed resurrection took place in 2014, with a new, scaled-down version of the original classic air show and is now dubbed ‘The Biggin Hill Festival of Flight’.
Two years ago the show was a bit special as it was the airport’s centenary; it’s hard to believe that Biggin Hill has been around for over 100 years!
Now in its 6th year, the new event is still a must-see attraction for Kent residents and those prepared to travel from further afield. Originally scheduled for just one day, the new event now spans 2 days, covering 17th and 18th August 2019.
It was originally held around the end of June but has now been moved to later in the summer which will hopefully help with the weather, which hasn’t been particularly kind over the last few years.
Biggin Hill Prices / Entrance Fees – How much does it cost?
The sixth year of the show in its new guise now spans 2 days. The price this year for 2019 is the same as last year’s price and the standard ticket price is the same for either Saturday or Sunday. For those over 16 years of age, the ticket price (valid for 1 day only) is £23.50 as long as you book in advance. If you leave booking too late, you may have had to pay the non-discounted price, which we think will be in the region of £29.
For kids under 15, the good news is that 2 of them can get in for free if they are with an adult (i.e. 2 kids free per 1 adult). Also be aware that no dogs are allowed (except for Guide Dogs for the blind / Assistance Dogs) but there is disabled parking (subject to availability).
For those who can afford it, there are also child-friendly Hospitality Tickets and the gold package will include a vegetarian and vegan option. There will be a kids’ barbeque (ages 5-15), a sumptuous marquee with its own garden and a bar for the grown-ups. The Hospitality package includes a separate entrance and car park and also has executive toilets.
What you get for your Hospitality will depend on the amount you pay. These types of tickets range from £25 (for kids 5-15 with the bronze package) up to £115 for an adult-only Sunday Gold ticket. Please be aware that these types of tickets are limited so it’s best to book early as they may well sell out before the date of the airshow.
In previous years’ free parking to Biggin Hill airfield has been included if you had a valid ticket, so you weren’t stung with any additional, unexpected costs when you turned up at the gate – We can’t confirm that this is the case this year so it may be wise to make your own enquiries prior to booking for 2018 if this is something that concerns you.
Warning! – Don’t turn up without a ticket
According to the official ticket website, you can’t gain access to the air show on the day without a valid ticket; they HAVE TO be bought in advance.
Where can I buy tickets for the Biggin Hill Airshow?
If you head on over to the tickets website, there are full details of how to purchase your tickets online together with prices for the various packages.
What’s on for the 2019 Air Display? A list of Aircraft
RAF BBMF Dakota – Photo courtesy of Terry Ryder
So far, for 2019, quite a few have been confirmed (weather and technical stuff permitting). So far we’ve got:
BBMF Spitfire (Mk TBC)
Breitling Jets Flying Display
Royal Jordanian Falcons
If you want to keep your finger on the pulse and check for additions to the list above, head on over to the Biggin Hill Airshow 2019 page to check for any additions.
There was huge disappointment at the 2017 event when it was announced that aircraft with Merlin engines would not be appearing at both Biggin Hill and the Eastbourne Airshow. This was due to a fault being discovered with a single engine, leading to all of them being grounded.
Last year’s line-up
Spitfire Mk IX ‘Spirit of Kent’
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
Rich Goodwin Pitts Special
Spitfire Mk IX MH434
Spitfire PR MkXI
If you head on over to the British Airshows website, you can see the current list accompanied by thumbnail pictures of most of the aircraft that will be there in 2019.
History of Biggin Hill and the Airshow
Squadron Leader Jock Maitland had the bright idea of purchasing a lease to run Biggin Hill Airport from Bromley Council in 1958. A few years later in 1963, he started the Biggin Hill air show.
He’d already flown Sabres in Korea before retiring from the RAF and went on to start a small charter company to run pleasure flights from Ramsgate Airport in the late 50s and early 60s.
The Council takes over in 1988
The council privatised the airport in 1988 and it was subsequently bought by Biggin Hill Airport Ltd in 1994. A 25-year contract for the Biggin Hill Air Fair was then agreed upon.
Photo with kind thanks to Terry Ryder
Developments in 2010
Despite being due to run until 2013, the leaseholders cancelled the agreement 3 years before its natural expiry. At that time, the air show had been running for 47 years but this brought things to an abrupt halt.
Rising from the ashes
2014 saw the rebirth of a scaled-down version of the original event and was rebranded as the Biggin Hill Festival of Flight. Originally running for only single Saturday, it was limited to 15,000 spectators and was intended to showcase Biggin Hill’s historic past alongside its value as a modern, thriving airport for commercial customers.
The Red Arrows Will Not Be Appearing This Year
Many of us living in Kent will be familiar with the sight of the Red Arrows flying over us several times throughout the summer months as they put on displays at various airshow throughout Kent, its neighbouring counties and indeed, the occasionally Central London celebration flypast.
They’re typically always one of the main attractions at many airshows and Biggin Hill is usually no exception. Unfortunately, due to touring America and Canada they will not be appearing this year. They appeared at the 2014 air fair and were also celebrating 50 years of their acrobatic air displays. It’s also worth mentioning that Biggin Hill was the location of their very first display way back in 1965.
Biggin Hill during World War Two
Biggin Hill was a well known and historic station for fighter planes in WW2 and it’s well known for its part in the world-renowned Battle of Britain. It stayed operational throughout the war despite being a main target for attack from mainland Europe. At the start of the war in 1939, a squadron from Biggin Hill shot down their first aircraft of WW2, a Dornier Do17.
No doubt some of you have seen the recent publicity for the BHMM Museum on the television and in the press. I am sure the exhibits within the building are interesting, but the effects of this Museum project on the Chapel and the Garden of Remembrance have been catastrophic.
What has happened to the Garden of Remembrance over the last two weeks has been so upsetting for the ‘Friends of the Chapel’ who have cared for the gardens for decades, that they have been compelled to issue a statement to the public requesting their help to oppose the BHMM Trust’s actions.
The BHMM Trust have cut down the trees around the garden and now have demolished the wisteria-covered oak and brick Pergola/Arbour which extended across the rear of the garden, a feature of the Chapel since the 1950s, and was also within the consecrated area. Somehow during the demolition, the Sundial that stands at the front of the garden has been smashed. The ashes of several hundred RAF personnel are interred in the garden, which is therefore a Cemetery, but unbelievably the Trust have now erected a six foot high ugly signage Monolith in front of the Garden, directing the public to the Toilets and the Café through the consecrated ground which is no longer a defined area!
The Monolith was part of a planning application that has yet to be approved. This has been a distressing time for the ‘Friends’ and I urge everyone who has an interest in the Garden of Remembrance, particularly if they have relatives, or know of someone, interred in the garden, to email the ‘Friends’ at: email@example.com Everyone please click here and then scroll down to see all the latest photos of the garden and further information: https://www.facebook.com/Protect-Biggin-Hill-RAF-Chapel-1939582632926986/ As always, please share this message and encourage others to sign the petition so we in turn can support the ‘Friends of the Chapel’ to the best of our ability.
Sadly there is currently no great expose’ to give you concerning the Chapel. However, here is a resume’ of what has been the most traumatic year in the life of the Chapel since its creation in 1951. Nothing particularly new, it draws together all the events of the past twelve months. If having read the resume’ you feel compelled to sign the petition then here is the link to do so.
A Word and PDF version can be found at the bottom of the page.
The Local Government Ombudsman’s investigation into the Planning procedures continues into what is proving to be a complex case.
The Chapel and Garden of Remembrance were open for Battle of Britain Day Sunday the 16th September, totally due to the sterling efforts of Margaret Wilmot and Joyce Pomfret, and was well attended.
The BHMM Trust had advertised it as a ‘Family Activity Day’, another example of their total lack of empathy for what is a War Memorial being opened for remembrance and reflection on this most significant day in the history of the Royal Air Force, and particularly Biggin Hill. Their attempts to have ‘Activities’ inside the Chapel were I am glad to report politely repulsed.
Resume of events since the of Presentation of the Petition, Protect Biggin Hill St George’s Royal Air Force Chapel of Remembrance
Resume of events since the of Presentation of the Petition, Protect Biggin Hill St George’s Royal Air Force Chapel of Remembrance, then standing at 17,000, to three Secretaries of State, the Prime Minister, and the London Borough of Bromley, on Battle of Britain Day 15th Sept 2017. The current number of signatories now stands at 25,360+. Sept 2018.
During the Autumn of 2017, demolition of the Vestry, part of the Listed Building housing the Aircrew Association stained glass window. No attempt had been made by the LBB or its BHMM Trust to contact the ACA at the planning stage to advise of this intention, it was left for members of the public to inform the Association. The Leader of the Council, Cllr Stephen Carr had resigned on Battle of Britain Day 15th Sept 2017, subsequently the new leader, Cllr Colin Smith, received a huge number of representations to halt the demolition and review the situation, but he refused. Even the Local Government Ombudsman investigating the planning procedures asked on our behalf whether LBB could hold back until he had concluded his review of what was a Council granting itself a most controversial unpopular approval, on a split vote requiring the Chair’s casting vote.
Taking over of the St George’s Room (the rear part of the Chapel) and its artefacts to be part of the so-called Museum. To view the Groundcrew and the Battle of Britain stained glass windows, other than at a great distance through a glass partition, will in future require payment of the Museum admission charge (circa £7.50). These windows and the collection in the St George’s Room were all achieved through public donation.
During April 2018, all the trees around the Memorial Chapel, planted in the early years by the then Chapel Community, most of whom are probably now deceased, which created an air of tranquillity and gave the Chapel maturity, were cut down. Although this was part of the planning approval, when it happened there was disbelief that it was actually carried out, particularly during Springtime when flowering trees were in bloom and in the bird nesting season. These trees and shrubs, including two rare Irish Yews, have appeared in photos, paintings and even Christmas cards for the past 50 years and this is how the Chapel will always be remembered, not as it now appears – stark and industrial. Some objectors have even remarked that the ‘new look’ of the Chapel, now treeless with the flat-roofed windowless Museum encompassing it, reminds them of a building they had seen on visits to a Nazi Concentration Camp on the Austro-German border.
Currently, building of the ugly inadequate Museum replacing the large Vestry, which had been generally considered to be the most attractive part of the Chapel. With the ACA window above its arched doorway, it was the backdrop to many Wedding photos. Now described even by official bodies such as Historic England as just a ‘Visitors Centre’ it is being built with wholly inappropriate imported off-white, mass produced machine-made ‘Euro’ bricks (hand-made bricks were promised) manufactured by the huge Austro-German company Wienerberger AG. If an investigation of this company had been undertaken first it would have quickly revealed that it was involved in Jewish Forced Labour during the 1930s and 1940s and was consequently targeted by both Bomber Command and the American Airforce. Only since this has been revealed, have the Council and its Trust had the audacity to try and claim that the choice of bricks was a deliberate act of reconciliation. The overwhelming public opinion is that they are inappropriate for this most sensitive site and it was this view that motivated the head of Buckinghamshire Brickmaker H G Matthews to offer his bespoke handmade bricks to the project free of charge. This would only have delayed the project by a week as just a few of the bricks had been laid and H G Matthews would have even purchased the Wienerberger bricks from the BHMM Trust. His remarkable offer was rejected and the inferior brick, which will inevitably discolour, has continued to be used. This fact must have now dawned on the BHMM Trust because the small ‘test walls’ that had been built behind the Chapel, to see how the laid Wienerberger bricks would appear against the red Surrey bricks of the Chapel, have now been painted white! (See attached photo). Winston Churchill, an amateur bricklayer himself and who instigated the building of the Chapel, surely would not have countenanced the use of such imported bricks when British bricks were available, even if they weren’t free! He would also have appreciated the quality of the now demolished Vestry’s detailed brickwork, in contrast to the plain stark walls of the Museum. Jim Matthews also pointed out to the Council that had a Museum project at Biggin Hill been publicised within the UK construction materials industry, most likely all the materials would have been obtained free of charge – such is the affection for the RAF.
Finally, it seems that despite claiming to have achieved funding of £5.3 million, there is not even enough money to complete the project! It was noticed that half of the rear part of the new build was not being started, this being the ‘Learning Centre’ described by the Council’s own consultants as ‘critical to the scheme’. This is probably why the Head of the Charles Darwin School, Sunil Chotal, has stepped down from being a member of the BHMM Trust. The truth is contained in a Bromley Council report going back to July 2017 which can be downloaded from the internet. (LBB Report No DRR17/032, 5thJuly 2017). The front page fraudulently states ‘the project is now complete and all funding is secure’, but the truth is hidden in the final pages which few would read, where it states the underfunding to be £600k and claiming that the Learning Centre is now a ‘phase two’ of the project – to be constructed presumably when the Museum is accepting visitors!? To ‘bulldoze’ this highly controversial scheme through, involving demolition of part of this most sensitive Listed Building against the public’s will, whilst in reality not having the funding to complete the project and also before the Local Government Ombudsman has reported on the Planning application procedures, has to be viewed as extremely dubious.
Cambridge Professor of the History of Architecture, Gavin Stamp, born in Bromley, wrote three articles on what he saw as an ill-considered, inadequate, ugly project. The last one, written shortly before his untimely death on 30th Dec 2017, ended with: ‘A Battle of Britain Memorial Museum ought to be above party and faction; and should be popular, uncontroversial and irenic *’ (* meaning – conciliatory, non-confrontational, peaceful).
September 2018. David Evans and Rita Radford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust have just published an open letter which is available as a link below to view. The responses to the letter can also be found below.
Several people have told us of the BHMM ‘Open letter’, and have asked us for clarification of some points, one being a lady from Downe. Please see below our reply to her, which if necessary would be part of an official response if the papers decide to print the BHMM letter.
Dave and Rita
“Hi ‘Lady in Downe’,
At no time did we state that the bricks were made in Germany or Austria, please see below. Wienerberger have now bought up and established so many plants in Europe it is obvious that the bricks will have come from somewhere on the western side, could well be the Netherlands. What we do know is that they arrive in the UK at Purfleet and Hull docks. Our argument has always been why not British bricks at a memorial to the Royal Air Force who
defeated the Luftwaffe. Rather than that the Council chose an imported mass-produced machine-made ‘Euro-brick’ manufactured by this huge Austro-German company. If they were a genuine hand-made brick (as promised) made by an independent manufacturer in the Netherlands that would be another matter and difficult to argue against.
The BHMM Trust can’t say they haven’t destroyed trees planted in memory of deceased RAF servicemen. Plantings occurred from 1951 by members the RAF community who are now
most likely dead themselves! The person who ordered the cutting down of the flowering cherry (in bloom) which had to be over sixty years old, has to be described as heartless and those who acted out the order mindless, at the least. These trees and shrubs have appeared in photographs for the past fifty years! If someone arrived in Downe Village and suggested the 13th century St Mary’s Church, incidentally in common with the RAF Chapel grade two listed
and in a conservation area, should be returned to how it was in 1500 by removal of later additions and trees, he would most certainly be classified as a lunatic! The Council and its BHMM Trust’s lack of empathy and knowledge of the history of the Chapel has been evident since they first took charge of the building, the first example was their refusal to support the campaign to retain perhaps the most important item in the Chapel, the 92 Squadron Standard. Once it had been secured on the word of Air Marshal Sir Baz North, no less, the Chairman of the BHMM Trust Bruce Walker then had the audacity to issue a press release claiming credit!
Whenever the BHMM Trust is ‘found out’ they make nonsense statements as is happening now. I am sure they ‘can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time’.
The BHMM Trust won’t be happy to be informed that we have received hundreds of emails from the RAF community, the word often used to describe what has been inflicted on the Chapel is desecration. Some have described scattering their relatives’ ashes quietly and unannounced under the Spitfire and Hurricane or the Battle of Britain window at the end of the St George’s room between the Irish Yews. One message that brought tears to our eyes described the sender’s enduring memory of his father, who had been a Medical Officer at the time of the Battle of Britain, was him standing in front of the Reredos sobbing inconsolably reading the names of his dead comrades – these people have been sorely let down by the Council and their BHMM Trust. They are rightly being criticized, this is not their place to vandalise!
As for the removal of plaques this is more nonsense, the first we have heard of this!
The planning application was never for two phases! Only when it became apparent that they would not have funding to complete the project it suddenly became two phases. Please see page 1 of report No DRR17/032 and also then page 7 and 8 which tell the truth.
Page 1 fraudulently states: ‘The development of the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum project is now complete and all funding is secure’ (please see attachments).
Hopefully this reassures you who are the good guys.
At the planning stage there was considerable play made that these would be ‘special hand-made’ bricks and presumably at a Memorial to fallen RAF airmen, they would be of UK manufacture. But no, they are an imported machine-made brick, nothing special, manufactured by the Austro-German company Weinerburger AG.
The company’s product name for the brick being used is ‘Marziale’ and it is claimed to be buff coloured, but appears when laid to be almost white, and having a textured finish will inevitably become green with algae! It doesn’t even appear to be the mixed colour of bricks I understood the few members of the public who bothered to attend the ‘brick selection day’ in August 2017 chose and which featured in the architect’s subsequent visualisations!
The Weinerberger company was started in Austria in the 1800s and was nearly bombed out of existence by the American Airforce and RAF Bomber Command during the final years of the 2nd World War. They re-established themselves after the war and in the 1980s created facilities in Germany and since then have spread throughout Europe, buying up other manufacturers on the way, and now claim to be the largest brick manufacturer in the world. Quoting from the company’s own history: ‘In 2001 there was a group wide restructuring with the focus on Germany’.
This thoughtless choice of bricks is seen particularly by the generation who experienced the war as disrespectful. Do we not have UK manufacturers who should be supported and supplying the bricks at this most sensitive of sites? It is further evidence, as if it were needed, of Bromley Council, its BHMM Trust and their Architect’s total lack of empathy with the St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance and its heritage. The impression was created that these bricks were supposedly hand crafted by an independent manufacturer, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Please keep telling your friends of our campaign, by forwarding the link below. We still need signatures.
The London Borough of Bromley and its BHMM Trust first demolished the Vestry, part of the Grade Two listed Chapel, at a cost of £25k, then started to build the horrible ‘Visitors Centre’ with wholly inappropiate bricks, and now have cut down all the trees and shrubs that had created such an atmosphere of tranquilty at the Chapel over the years since the war.
IT NOW TRANSPIRES THAT THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FUNDING TO COMPLETE THE BUILDING!
The Learning Centre, a large part of the rear of the building, and stipulated by the Council’s own consultants as ‘critical’ to the project, is now on hold and a public appeal has been made for £250K, although in Council and BHMM documentation, the underfunding is £600K to £650K! However the project was ‘bulldozed’ ahead, despite the Council knowing as early as July last year that their funding application to the Clore Duffield Foundation, who finance educational projects, had been unsuccessful (source: LBB Report No: DRR17/032). Unless in the next few months a huge amount of money suddenly magically appears, the rear of the building will not be completed for the planned opening in the Autumn. This is all happening despite the Council claiming to have already achieved funding of £5.3m, so with the costs already accrued within the Council, the cost of this ‘divisive’ inadequate scheme must be in excess of a whopping £6m!
Surely for a Council to start a project of this nature, knowing full funding was not in hand, could be considered extremely dubious?
I am doing everything I can to publicise these facts, so if you think of