Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Flight Deck Forums > Rumours & News
Reload this Page >


Rumours & News Reporting Points that may affect our jobs or lives as professional pilots. Also, items that may be of interest to professional pilots.


Old 25th Jul 2001, 15:13
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 45
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

I am posting this correspondence in it's entirety, so it will be self-explanatory. PLEASE, if you feel strongly about this, DO something - even if it's only an email !!

Thank you.


This is the message that I hoped I will never have to send, concerning the
archives of DERA, the UK test establishment formerly known as the RAE
(Royal Aircraft Establishment), the British counterpart to Edwards AFB.
It was known that DERA will not keep its huge photo archives anymore and
that this will be broken up between the Imperial War Museum (IWM) and the
Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) and that material described as being
"not-worth-keeping" will be discarded.

This is of course totally unacceptable to me, as I consider that no RAE
archives are "not-worth-keeping." All the X-Planes books that I produced
have relied on such "not-worth-keeping" stuff, for the detailed
nut-and-bolt project history.

Many detailed histories of British X-Planes will not be written and ARE
LOST FOREVER because the material that would have sourced such a book was
destroyed as being "not-worth-keeping".

The outlook had seemed positive earlier this month. Mike Baker - Chairman
(FAST) assured me in an e-mail dated Sunday 8 July 2001 that "there is no
question of any (DERA) negatives being destroyed" and that "no records will
be discarded!."
For a while this statement put my mind at ease and I was able to get some
The review and selection of DERA photographs for permanent preservation is
being carried out under the direction of the Public Record Office (the UK's
National Archives). The officer responsible for this review is Joe Kelly at
the Public Record Office.

His e-mail: [email protected].

I wrote to Mr. Kelly, suggesting that they give me the DERA material they
thought of as "not-worth-keeping," with myself paying the shipping costs.
Below is his reply, e-mailed to me yesterday:

Dear Mr Matthews

Thank you for your enquiry. I appreciate the interest you have in this
material. However I cannot give the undertaking that you seek.
These photographs are, as you know, public records as defined in UK
legislation and will be subject to the usual measure of value-review
required by that legislation. That review will sift out material deemed,
by experts, to be of no historic value and which will be discarded. We
are under remit, as always, to discard the ephemeral and preserve that
which is of true historic value, and we will do that.
The review will also identify material that the Public Record Office does
not wish itself to preserve but which those who are carrying out the review
may feel to be of some historic interest. We have agreed to present that
material to FAST, under the terms of the Public Records Act 1958 Section
3(6). The Act allows us to do this where the receiving institution has
both the interest and the resources properly to care for the material and
to allow access to it by the general public. It would be inappropriate and
unacceptable to present public records under any other circumstances.
I am sorry that I cannot give you the reply that perhaps you would have
hoped for, but I hope that this is nonetheless helpful in clarifying the

Joe Kelly
Records Management Department
Public Record Office
Telephone 0208 392 5330 extn. 2359


So this, briefly, is the situation: Historical RAE material which is
decades old will be destroyed as being "ephemeral" and "of no historic
In the past, flight log books, biographies and pictures of test pilots were
discarded under the same pretence.

Even if they dont give me this "not-worth-keeping" material, I am sure
there are many aviation museums in the UK and elsewhere who will accept it.

Can anybody help, please?

Henry Matthews

nullHMP Publications
It's a Joke is offline  
Old 25th Jul 2001, 23:35
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: The Deep South (Sussex)
Posts: 783
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

I share your view that, almost certainly, items of great historic value will be dumped simply because the person sifting through the files will be out of tune with what should be kept.
The history of the RAE is always thin because of the reluctance of the authorities to allocate funds for recording it or because of so-called security considerations.

For heavens sake- if the authorities think some item isn't worth keeping surely no harm can be caused by letting someone else store it!
Lou Scannon is offline  
Old 26th Jul 2001, 15:44
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

Sounds like another case of 'The rules say we do it this way and we're not allowed to bring common sense or public interest into the equation'

If some one like IAJ is willing to give this achive material a home then let them. Why so many obstacles to preserve national history ??
Max Brakin is offline  
Old 27th Jul 2001, 12:38
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: RAF Lincolnshire
Posts: 111
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

DERA sorry QinetiQ hold many of our history in the form of photo negatives. So far we have heard nothing about any disposal policy. This may be because we are not part of DERA/QinetiQ/DSTL. But have been a lodger unit on the site since 1946! This poses the question, what valuble archive material will be skipped from units that have lived on RAE/DERA sites, but who are no longer there, or no longer part of the DERA set up?

Do I hear the underlying cause of being yet again money??? Now being a private company, it eats far too much into the directors bonus to spend money of none profatable marginal activities like preserving our valuable history!
Descend to What Height?!? is offline  
Old 27th Jul 2001, 13:13
  #5 (permalink)  

Yes, Him
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: West Sussex, UK
Posts: 2,689
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

I have forwarded this thread to Mick Oakey, the Editor of Aeroplane Monthly, he has extensive contacts and will hopefully be able to do something postive.
Gainesy is offline  
Old 27th Jul 2001, 13:54
  #6 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 45
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts


Thank you so much. I am sure that, given the requisite amount of publicity, these records can be save (at least I HOPE so!!!!!!)

And many thanks to all the others who are taking the time to read this thread. Please, if you feel strongly about it, at least email the public records man and tell him of your disgust ??

Thanks again.........let's keep some sort of pressure up, eh ?
It's a Joke is offline  
Old 27th Jul 2001, 18:59
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Texas, USA
Posts: 263
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

I posted an email to him.

Short-sightednessed !!! It's a danger to us all.
kabz is offline  
Old 27th Jul 2001, 20:10
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Northwest-Southwest
Posts: 93
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

I passed this on to Air-Britain (Historians).

Below is the copy of an email sent to Mr Kelly

Dear Mr Kelly,

I've seen the recent correspondence regarding the disposal of aviation records.

I do hope the whoever decides to retain what and where it is to go, will know what he or she is doing. There are people around who can advise on the historical value and anything to be disposed should not be destroyed but at the very least offered up for sale as long as it is available to public inspection without any charge being levied. There are far too many historical records out of reach of the general public.

Barry Abraham

Chairman, Airfield Research Group, Editor of "Airfield Review" and Author.
Member : Air-Britain, Croydon Airport Society, Handley Page Association etc
Airways Ed is offline  
Old 27th Jul 2001, 20:46
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Reichstag
Posts: 58
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts


I suppose if my grandfather was featured but wasn't "of national importance", his stuff would be destroyed? How can you quantify "historically important"?

I too have put fingers to keyboard and expressed my view. Perhaps "Flight" and "Flypast" would be worth contacting by someone?
Norman Goering is offline  
Old 28th Jul 2001, 02:21
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Benson, OXON
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

I E-mailed him the following at 3.58 on 25/7:

"Dear Mr Kelly,

I saw a reference to the disposal of archival material from DERA/RAE at

and Mr Matthews response to the news.

I didn't think that your reply made it clear as to whether FAST would receive all material which the Public Record Office does not itself wish to preserve, or only that surplus material which your experts felt to be of some historic interest.

If there is likely to be any material which may be classified by your experts as being of no historic value and which will therefore be discarded, and not sent to FAST, I would add my concern to those expressed by Mr Matthews.

Many aviation archives and photos have been destroyed in the past because they have been assumed to be of no historic (or commercial) value, and I would hope that there is some mechanism by which interested parties might help advise as to what material may be of historical value - what might seem ephemeral to the professional (generalist) curator may be of enormous value to the aviation specialist curator, writer, enthusiast or publisher, and it would surely be only right and proper to ensure that nothing of historical value is lost, and to ensure that maximum revenue is obtained from any disposal of material categorised as being surplus to your requirements and yet also assessed as not being 'worthy' of being passed to FAST.

As a freelance aviation author, (blah, blah, self congratulatory bollocks detailing who I work for, etc.), I would naturally be happy to offer any advice, but could more usefully provide you with useful contacts within the non-national aviation museums, and within most UK aviation publishing companies, and with the owners of aeronautical picture libraries (and libraries of cuttings, books etc.) who might be happy to purchase material which would otherwise be discarded as 'scrap', and who might also be happy to offer their advice as to where surplus material might usefully be directed.

I can see that you must ensure that any material which passes into your hands should be sent to organisations which have "both the interest and the resources properly to care for the material and to allow access to it by the general public", but would suggest that this condition should perhaps be waived in the case of material which would otherwise be simply scrapped.

I would humbly suggest that anyone without a background in aviation publishing would be most likely to classify a great deal of valuable material as being 'worthless tat' - I should know, I have 20 filing cabinets full of it!

With best wishes, and assuring you of my best intentions,"
Jon Lake is offline  
Old 17th Aug 2001, 21:15
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

I have just read the message posted by Henry Matthews related to the disposal of photographic records of the former RAE and DERA Farnborough. It is unfortunate that Mr Matthews, although undoubtedly of good intent, is perhaps unwittingly responsible for dispelling a certain amount of misinformation which is causing unnecessary concern in some quarters. Regretably his article does not tell the entire story. Perhaps if it did so it would appear less dramatic. The facts are these:

The photographic records of the former RAE and DRA/DERA Farnborough fall within the auspices of the Public Records Office who are ultimately responsible for their care and, if need be, disposal. The recent privatisation of the former DERA has meant that the records previously held by them require a new home. Accordingly, the PRO has elected that the Imperial War Museum act on their behalf to safeguard such records and make them available for public access. Necessarily a significant weeding of the records is necessary if only because of the sheer volume of them, (circa 550,000 images!!), a large portion of which are arguably of no real interest. Our organisation was concerned lest that the sorting process, necessarily imperfect through sheer practicality, would allow important records of the work of RAE to be inadvertently destroyed. The Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) has been successful in negotiating with the IWM and PRO that ALL RECORDS not required by the IWM WILL BE presented to our organisation. Additionally and importantly, a selection of both our members and former employees of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, expert in the content of the records, will be employed in the sorting process working under the expert guidance of the IWM, this process starting next month. There is therefore no question of ANY material being initially considered "ephemeral" and destroyed. It is possible, and in fact near certain, that a lot of the material will ultimately fall into that category BUT NOT BEFORE careful scrutiny by our group of volunteers. You may also be sure that if we find material that is not related to RAE but of interest to other specialist then they will be contacted.

FAST has reached the agreement with the PRO by means of lengthy, sensitive discussion and negotiation with good intent displayed by all parties. To besiege the PRO with e-mails will serve no positive purpose whatsoever and will only serve to jeopardise the agreement that has been put in place. Readers who are unaware of FAST and its supporting organisation FASTA are welcome to visit our web site at www.fasta.co.uk.

Please help us preserve the heritage of the RAE, Farnborough - the Home of British Aviation

Mike Baker - Chairman, Royal Aircraft Establishment Heritage Group, Farnborough Air Sciences Trust
mikebaker is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.