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Brooklands Museum in race for top award

Brooklands Museum - general view

Brooklands Museum in Surrey has been nominated for world’s biggest museum award, the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018. Brooklands was home to the Vickers-Armstrongs aircraft factory, and was where Barnes Wallis worked for much of his career. The museum has many Wallis-related exhibits, including the unique Stratosphere Chamber, a Wellington bomber and many examples of his bombs.

Supported by Art Fund, the £100,000 prize is designed to get to the heart of what makes a truly outstanding museum, seeking out innovation and exceptional achievement in museums and galleries all across the UK, and working to encourage more people to visit. The winning museum will be announced before an invited audience of leading figures from the fields of culture and museums, on Thursday 5th July 2018 at the V&A Museum in London.

Brooklands’ nomination marks the culmination of one of the Museum’s most important periods in its 27 year history, with a spectacular transformation of the site in 2017 delivering extraordinary new exhibitions that tell the story of one of the most important sites in British motorsport, aviation and engineering.

In 2017, Brooklands unveiled three outstanding projects: The Brooklands Aircraft Factory, the Flight Shed and the restoration of it historic Finishing Straight.

Visit the Brooklands Museum website for more information on the nomination.

Highball “bouncing bombs” recovered from Loch Striven

The first Highball breaks the surface

A trustee of the Barnes Wallis Foundation has helped to successfully raise two World War 2 bombs from the bottom of Loch Striven. Dr. Iain Murray, who works as a Computing lecturer at the University of Dundee, has researched the work of Sir Barnes Wallis, who invented the famous “bouncing bomb” which was tested on the loch in 1943-44. His research revealed that over 200 of the bombs were tested on the loch, and that there was thus a good chance that many were still there. As there were none of the Highball bombs in museums, he thus hoped to recover one to place in a museum. Mary Stopes-Roe, Sir Barnes Wallis’s elder daughter, had given her backing to the project.

Highball is a smaller version of the Upkeep bomb used by the RAF’s 617 Squadron to successfully destroy two German dams in May 1943. Highball was for use against enemy battleships, but operated on the same principle – dropping from an aircraft, it would skip along the water in a series of “bounces” like a skipping stone, then sink beneath the hull of the target ship before exploding.

A preliminary dive in the summer of 2010 found a small number of Highballs, and in July 2017 a team of twelve divers from the East Cheshire Sub-Aqua Club (part of BSAC), aided by a team from the Royal Navy’s Northern Diving Group, explored the site the site and successfully recovered two of the bombs. These will be sent to two museums for preservation – Brooklands Museum in Surrey (home to a collection of Barnes Wallis artifacts) and the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertfordshire (de Havilland Mosquito aircraft carried the Highballs).

A sonar survey of the loch was also carried out, and around 100 Highballs have been located, as well as dummy charges dropped by X-craft midget submarines, which also trained in the loch – although within 30 miles of Glasgow, Loch Striven is very isolated, and so made an excellent secret testing site.

Read the story from BBC News in which Dr. Murray describes how Highball would have worked.

Read the story from the Royal Navy website.

Read the story from the British Sub-Aqua Club website.

The first  Highball cleaned up
The first Highball cleaned up

The Barnes Wallis Foundation announces the launch of new website

Barnes Wallis Foundation Launch New Website

The Barnes Wallis Foundation, the new Charitable Incorporated Organisation established in July 2014, is proud to announce the launch of its new website The new website reflects the Foundation’s re-focused key commitments to inspire, inform and advance education in aeronautical and engineering design, drawing upon and in memory of, the life and work of Sir Barnes Wallis.

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