Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Open Letter

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.
Kind regards
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.

Dave and Rita”

open letter from The Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust

RESPONSE TO BHMM OPEN LETTER. 25th May 2018. FINAL  (PDF)

RESPONSE TO BHMM OPEN LETTER. 25th May 2018. FINAL  (Word Doc) RAF CHAPEL. ST CHRISTOPHERS 2 001
RAF CHAPEL. ST CHRISTOPHER'S 001

18 thoughts on “Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Open Letter”

  1. Regret to say that we seem to be lumbered with a collection of mindless destructive louts whose sole purpose in life is the destruction of our heritage and those who, put their lives on the line in order that some might survive, and thus honour the dead. Our servicemen should at all times be honoured and respected, especially when they are sent to fight by dim witted idiots, of any party, as has been shown in recent years. It leaves me almost speechless. Gwenda Evans
    Ess

    1. Make sure you sign the 38 Degrees Petition!Your sentiments are those of the vast majority.In a Poll in the Squire Magazine only 4 in 100 were in favour of Bromley Council’s plans.They have,so far,
      by demolishing the vestry desecrated the Chapel,felled the trees,
      some planted by distant family and relatives of the 435 aircrew who gave their lives for our freedom today,and are building with bricks requisitioned from Weinerberger A.G an Austro German Company which research has revealed used forced Jewish labour in their brickworks in Vienna who were then sent to the Concentration Camps when they were too weak to work!No problem with German cars and technology,
      but NOT in a Memorial to those who gave their lives .The Battle of Britain aircrews by their supremacy in the air forced Hitler to change his plans to invade OUR country.The Council need to change their plans immediately and halt this reckless,
      mindless,monstrous insensitive building of a “Visitor Centre”!

  2. Make sure you sign the 38 Degrees Petition!Your sentiments are those of the vast majority.In a Poll in the Squire Magazine only 4 in 100 were in favour of Bromley Council’s plans.They have,so far,
    by demolishing the vestry desecrated the Chapel,felled the trees,
    some planted by distant family and relatives of the 435 aircrew who gave their lives for our freedom today,and are building with bricks requisitioned from Weinerberger A.G an Austro German Company which research has revealed used forced Jewish labour in their brickworks in Vienna who were then sent to the Concentration Camps when they were too weak to work!No problem with German cars and technology,
    but NOT in a Memorial to those who gave their lives .The Battle of Britain aircrews by their supremacy in the air forced Hitler to change his plans to invade OUR country.The Council need to change their plans immediately and halt this reckless,
    mindless,monstrous insensitive building of a “Visitor Centre”!

  3. I have read the arguments and counter arguments and frankly I am appalled at the activities of Bromley Council and the the Trust. Surely it is time for Private Eye to look into the actions of the Council the magazine just loves to report on Council (shady) activiies

  4. Have read to going on of the council about the chapel I still wonder what in it for the council members. To get this amount of flack and still continue regardless to public opinion is beyond believe

  5. It appears that everyone is missing the point here. ‘Dave and Rita’ ,to put it bluntly, are part of a group who are ‘pissed’ off that their earlier plans for a Heritage Centre were thrown out by the council because they were not sympathetic to the Chapel. They are very vocal with their’black propaganda’ and ‘fake news’ which would not have been out of place in 1930’s Germany. What is being overlooked by these people is that part of the BHMM project is the preservation of St George’s Chapel, not it’s desecration or destruction. A considerable amount of the project’s funding is being devoted to the restoration of the fabric of the building, updating the electrics and the like. It will also involve the restoration of the stained glass windows which are suffering from 70 years exposure to the elements. There is a comment above – ‘What’s in it for the Council?’ The Answer is simple. When the RAF pulled out of Biggin Hill, there was every possibility that the Chapel would have been demolished. The Council stepped in to save it from this fate. That’s how it was then, and that’s how it will be for the future with this project. No one wants to see the end of this iconic building. The Council is doing what it should be doing. Preserving St George’s Chapel for future generations, as it was constructed in 1951, as it was intended in 1951. The choice is yours – do you believe the Council or do you believe ‘Dave and Rita’?

    1. In reply to post by Geoff Parmakis. I don’t think anyone is missing the point; I would say to you Geoff, that you are being drawn into an argument that is based on some inaccuracies on both sides. When you look at the original financial plans showing exactly where expenditure was allocated, a percentage was allocated for refurbishment of the Chapel, it was not a ‘considerable’ amount. Most of the money was for the new build; nevertheless funds were allocated. There appears to be little damage, inside or out, to the stained glass windows in the Chapel as they have been well protected by their ‘plastic’ covers. Equally, I would ask you to consider, that buildings and their surroundings grow and develop over time; that growth and development builds the history of the place and the people. Whilst no-one can be certain what Winston himself would have thought of the development over the years of the Chapel and its environs, it would seem probable that he would want to see his ‘shrine of remembrance’ enhanced and cared for, including its more recent memories and additions. Removing some of this more recent history is, in some people’s eyes, a destruction of the very fabric and nature of this historic place. Research is under way on the history of those men recorded in the Book of Remembrance; it is certain that no-one would ‘adjust’ their history, so why would it be permissible to adjust the history of the Chapel? I do sincerely believe that other options were open to the council; certainly, different plans were available, including the council’s own original plans. I have no idea why they chose to go down the path that they did and my past experience in dealing with councils leads me to have a distinct lack of trust in any information that comes from them. BUT what is done is done; we cannot undo it; no doubt there will be those who will want to visit the museum and over the years all the controversy will be lost and memories will fade. Those of us who care deeply about the Chapel as a living remembrance and what it stands for, will continue to support it for as long as we are able, in the hope that this promise made by the council to preserve and protect the Chapel in perpetuity is realised and that my great grandchildren and their children will be able to visit,honour and worship at this glorious place. Lest We Forget .

    2. I have just read Geoff Parmakis’s extraordinary comments and I was in two minds whether to dignify them with a reply. Firstly can I say that to our shame, neither Rita nor I were members of the BHBoB supporters Club. Their design was certainly not rejected on grounds of not being sympathetic to the Chapel, I can’t think where that notion came from. Their design had no detrimental effect on the Chapel, being hundreds of feet away, also it was bigger and cheaper and would not have required the closure of the Chapel for over a year. The BHMM Trust scheme necessitated demolition of the second largest element of the Grade Two listed building, that being the Vestry. Also with the ‘stealing’ of the St George’s Room to become part of the Museum, this will seriously affect the Chapel’s ability to remain a ‘living church’. Sadly it may result in what some individuals at the Council have wanted along, that is to clear the Chapel of its pews to make all of it Museum space. The claim that when the RAF/MoD pulled out the whole Chapel could be demolished is complete nonsense, For a start the Chapel is a Listed building, and when the MoD relinquished it, the Treasury responded with a grant of £1million to keep its doors open. Can I tell you Geoff that everything that we write can be backed up by documentation, much of it from the Council itself, obtained through FoI requests, so anything on which you require clarification please email us on: rcr.knockholt@btinternet.com Perhaps I should tell you how Rita and I became involved in all this. I worked at the RAF station as a civilian for the last ten years before its closure in 1992 and saw the Vestry being built. As a committee member of the Downe Village Residents Association for thirty plus years I attended the meetings for interested parties of the Chapel and Museum at the Civic Centre on 5th March and 27th April 2015. At those meetings I witnessed dignified men such as Gordon Wright, Chairman of the BHBoBSC, and Air Commodore John Bell OBE, at one time Officer Commanding the Air Crew Selection Centre, being treated absolutely appallingly. Gordon had worked tirelessly on the Supporters Club project, which had not long received unopposed Planning Permission and was to be financed to a large extent from his own pocket, and John Bell, a Chapel ‘stalwart’ representing RAFA and determined to keep his beloved Chapel a ‘living Church’. The treatment they received from the Council representatives convinced me there was something very wrong with what was occurring and that first impression has been re-enforced time and time again. Rita Radford was the A/E Consultant Surgeon for thirty plus years at both the old Bromley Hospital and latterly at the PRUH, I think that qualifies her as a responsible person who has served the Borough of Bromley and cares about its heritage. Whereas the Council’s record as far as the borough’s heritage is concerned is hardly laudable, I cite the Priory as an example. Their lack of empathy and knowledge of the RAF Chapel has been blindly obvious to anyone who knows and cares for the building. Geoff asks who you believe, well view the photos, speak to those who have cared for the Chapel for years and those who have worked towards a museum for equally as long and refuse to have anything to do with what is currently happening. Ask yourself why 24,200 have already signed the petition and read their reasons for signing.
      David Evans.

    3. My coment is from myself and my mother. Please consider my mother (98), had to shelter with family under a railway arch in Stepney all though the war with the fear of her father’s life, who was an air raid precaution warden.

      ” I does appear from the feelings of the people are being ignored and not fully consulted. It also appears that basic requests of the public are just ignored.

      I do not trust the council since once again rules broken with the present aircraft flight quantity, aircraft size, hours of operation.

      So, any words from the council are just untrustworthy.

    4. Dave & Rita! Certainly not you, as the facts are there and plain to see. As usual the Council do what they want regardless of public opinion as was clearly shown in their total support for airport expansion, covering up truths, which have now become apparent. I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them!!

    5. You ask a question and the answer is simple. I would not believe a word the Council says, it is proved to be false even within their own statement. I have attended services at the chapel and spent time in the haven of peace outside which it would seem has now been destroyed. Frankly Mr Parmakis I would ask the question are you involved with the Council or BHMM in some way? Do you work for the contractors committing the vandalism? Because you seem to have swallowed the propaganda, which would be worthy of Mr. Goebbels himself, or is it just financially driven? We should be told.

      1. I note Mr. Sweeney, that you have attended services in the Chapel in the past. If you are able to, I would urge you to return to services in the Chapel; the Friends of St. George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance are fighting to keep the Chapel open as a place of worship, not as just a memorial piece; we need a congregation to do that and we are small in number. Please join us if you can and pass the message on. Dates for Anglican services; Dec 2nd. 9th. 16th. 23rd. 9.30am.
        RC services; Sat eve Dec. 1st. 8th. 15th. 22nd. Go to http://www.rafchapelbigginhill.com for contact details.

  6. I’m impressed that anyone has the nerve to lie so blatantly. To use ‘no trees or shrubs were removed’ in the same paragraph as ‘we have taken cuttings from plants removed’ and claim both to be truthful would test Donald Trump or Boris Johnson’s abilities to spin news…..

  7. I have commented on this on numerous occasions as Rita & Dave will testify.
    I served in the RAF starting in the 1950’s.
    I was fortunate to serve with 92 Sqn during the cold war period, and I am quite horrified that the events surrounding Bromley council’s total disregard for the Chapel and its
    connection with those brave airmen stationed at Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain. To desecrate the Chapel vestry , and the beautiful trees and shrubs it tantamount
    to sacriledge.. Shame on you the councilors of Bromley I hope you do not sleep peacefully in your beds.

  8. Typical of local councils who when they are wrong are so small minded they can’t admit it. These people fought for them and many died for them allowing them to act in away much like those these boys defeated.

    I cannot state how much I detest them for their selfish, thoughtless and mindless vandalism. no doubt they smugly feel some satisfaction in a PC way for this destruction. And all so they can charge a couple of bob to honest, good and worthwhile people paying their respects to heroes.

  9. I wonder if the council are all like Capt Mainwaring Bumbling fools , full of their own self importance?? To use bricks from a manufacturer with links to the nazi war effort beggers belief ,what next a sponsership deal with BMW for the Museum. And to turn down the offer of free british bricks for this sensative site ?????.Just shows the colonel blimps at the mod don t care about rememberance or giving your life for your country I find it shocking a conservative council/government shows its true colours they are just cannon fodder the Few!Lest We forget

  10. Was there consultation period, Council should plant trees when finished, especially heartless in the 100th anniversary year of the RAF.

  11. I went through The Aircrew Selection Centre at Biggin Hill in 1964 and although I was unsuccessful this airfield and everything associated with it should be retained and remembered for its vital place in the history of this country.
    God Bless the Royal Air Force and all we owe to that organisation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.