Large museum with collection including aircraft, missiles, space vehicles, engines and road transport vehicles
Bristol Aero Collection is situated four miles west of Cirencester on the A429. It is a large museum of artefacts from the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company that was based in Filton, Bristol and went on to become the Bristol Aeroplane Company. The collection includes aircraft, missiles, space vehicles, engines and road transport vehicles, all designed and built in Bristol over the course of the last century.
The British and Colonial Aeroplane Company was very successful at aircraft-production, so much so that by the start of the First World War it was the largest factory in Europe. It produced a range of aircraft, including the Bristol Boxkite that was started in 1910 and that went on to be the first successful production aircraft for the company.
The founders of The Bristol Aero Collection were determined to preserve such examples of the history of aeronautical development and so formed the collection of artefacts in 1988, initially in Banwell, North Somerset, until the move to Kemble Airfield in 1995.
For those interested in aeronautical engineering, there is a fascinating collection of engines at Bristol Aero Collection. These include the Bristol Pegasus Radial Piston Engine (1932) and the Rolls Royce Avon Turbojet Engine (1950.) The aircraft on display include Concorde, retired from service by British Airways in 2003, and a Bristol Type 173-XF785 helicopter, the first British twin-rotor helicopter, built in 1952. There is also an extensive collection of missiles.
As well as the aeronautical engineering side of the displays, there are also fine exhibits of road transport, as the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company was started as a subsidiary of the Bristol Tramway Company. Visitors can even view a horse-drawn tram – despite the fact that it doesn’t have an engine! At the other extreme, visitors can also see space vehicles! There is a mock-up of the GIOTTO Space Vehicle, which famously intercepted Haley’s Comet on 13th March 1986, as well as a sounding rocket, used to perform scientific experiments in space.
Informative displays, a souvenir shop and a light-refreshment area are also provided.