See wartime leader’s plane seat at Avro, Stockport
PUBLISHED: 08:07 02 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:10 02 September 2020
Aviation museum’s fascinating link to Churchill
Antiques expert Christopher Proudlove asked the people running museums which item from their collection they would have liked to take home during lockdown
This interview with Terry Barnes of the Avro Heritage Museum in Stockport, Cheshire, reveals the secrets of a very special piece of aviation memorabilia
Terry Barnes, chair of the Avro Heritage Museum, nominated, well, this chair among the array of fascinating exhibits on show at the former Woodford Aerodrome, near Stockport. If it could talk, it could tell you how it proudly supported Churchill’s ample frame when he was a passenger in an Avro York, LV633 Ascalon, to various destinations during the war, perhaps most famously to meet with Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta in 1945. The Crimea Conference, code-named Argonaut and Magneto, was held so the three allies could decide the post-war fate of defeated Germany and the rest of Europe.
“The Avro York was a derivative of the Avro Lancaster and was the chosen aircraft by all travelling top brass during the war due to its comfort and safety record,” says Terry. “After the war, the York was the first aircraft to record 100,000 tonnes of supplies into Berlin during the airlift… mostly coal.”
The chair is one of four made, each in a different colour: maroon for the King, blue for Mountbatten, brown for Field Marshall Smuts, and this one, in black, for the wartime prime minister. It is believed to be the only one to have survived. “I have chosen it because it is unique and also of such heritage value with an amazing legacy. Its age is difficult to determine but, certainly, it would have been made in the early 1940s. It is such a part of history that it is a main exhibit in our museum. It was taken from the aircraft in 1949 and ended up in a storeroom at Avro’s Chadderton factory,” Terry says.
The museum preserves the legacy of Alliott Verdon-Roe and his company A.V. Roe & Co., which produced many famous aircraft including the Lancaster, Vulcan, Nimrod and BAe 146. Standing proudly outside is Avro Vulcan XM603, the only Vulcan in the world to be preserved in anti-flash all-white paint.
Avro Heritage Museum