Tucked away on the edge of a housing estate in the Woodley suburb of Reading, and quite small but tightly packed with aviation gems is the Museum of Berkshire Aviation. Run by enthusiastic volunteers (the museum is a charitable trust), it’s the sort of local museum which is easily overlooked, but offers a fantastic day out for all the family. At £3.50 per adult ticket, it’s fun, educational and inexpensive.
Quite hands on – you can get into a helicopter, a plane cockpit and even an ejector seat, it’s really fun and informative.
The museum is on the edge of the site of the former Woodley Aerodrome, which caused large expansion of the area and was significant for being the site of the first production line for aeroplanes in Britain, and many of its exhibits relate to the Phillips & Powis company, later renamed Miles Aircraft, which was based there from 1932 to 1947. Other local manufacturers are also well represented with aircraft exhibited built by Handley Page (Reading) Ltd, and by Fairey Aviation at White Waltham near Maidenhead. In the 1960s the airfield was closed together with its last aircraft factory and the area is largely represented, but the museum remains to commemorate its proud history
Despite being a small museum, several of the exhibits are unique survivors. These include a Miles Martinet (a World War II target tug), the only Miles Student two-seat side-by-side jet trainer ever built, and a Fairey Jet Gyrodyne — a composite helicopter and autogyro, or gyrodyne. There’s also a polaris warhead codenamed chevaline and a 1000 kg German bomb which was found locally and fortunately deactivated!
Really young children might find some of the displays a little wordy for an extensive visit, but most agree it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours immersed in local history!