The summer holidays start this week for most schools in Kent and many others across the country, bringing opportunities for fun-filled family days out and visits to new places.
Here at the Battle of Britain Memorial we’ve lots on offer, with plenty of things to see and do, and the added possibility of seeing a Spitfire or Hurricane fly overhead. And the good news is that most of the site is completely free to visit, though there is a small parking charge.
Our replica Hurricane and Spitfire are always popular with youngsters – and their parents – while our newest attraction in The Scramble Experience gives visitors a chance to ‘shoot down’ enemy aircraft on a video screen while sitting inside a mock-up Hurricane cockpit. See who can get the highest score in your group!
It’s always fun to look for your family name on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial wall, where the names of all the brave men who flew in the Battle of Britain are listed. If you have a particular interest in any of the airmen, we have details of virtually all of them on a computerised database in The Wing.
How fewer-than 3,000 aircrew managed to defeat the Luftwaffe and prevent a Nazi invasion is a fascinating story, one that is told using the latest audio-visual technology in our exciting Scramble Experience.
At the heart of the Experience is a unique film, made for the Trust, that takes over one whole side of the room and the ceiling to show just what life was like for fighter pilots during the Battle of Britain. It was moving enough to bring one member of the Few close to tears the first time he saw it.
The Experience is full of hands-on activities that make finding out about the most important battle fought by this country in the 20th century a lot of fun, while for those who want to find out even more, we have a huge amount of detailed information.
Much of that information comes from the Few themselves, in filmed interviews and in archive footage and recordings from 1940. There are even clips taken from the gun cameras fitted to some fighter aircraft during the war.
Younger children can dress up as fighter pilots, while everyone enjoys using the ‘plotting table’ that highlights the location of important wartime RAF installations and reveals more information about them.
While there is a small charge for visiting The Scramble Experience, the rest of the site is free to visit and the experience helps to explain the background to the National Memorial to the Few and why it is so important. The Trust receives no public funding to offset its costs of £150,000 a year, and so visitors are encouraged to contribute in some way.
We have a fantastic gift shop at the site, which offers everything from pocket money-priced gifts for children to tee-shirts, replica aircraft, stamp sets, books, prints and other memorabilia, much of it signed by members of the Few to create a unique gift.
On the first floor of The Wing, overlooking the Channel is the Cockpit Café, which has perhaps the best view of any café in Kent. Enjoy sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, beer and wine, ice cream and hot snacks while sitting on our balcony looking out towards France.
Visit us soon and have a great summer!