PRINCE Charles will open the long-anticipated Bentley Priory Museum, which the Observer and its readers helped fight to establish.
The attraction, to be run by The Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, lies in part of the converted Grade II Bentley Priory mansion house on the former RAF base in The Common, in Stanmore.
Using new exhibits and stories, the museum will chart the contribution The Few made to fight for domination over northern Europe between July and October 1940, during the Second World War.
Veterans, trust volunteers, local dignitaries and former and current members of the Armed Forces will welcome the heir to the throne – who is patron of the trust’s fundraising appeal – on Thursday, September 12, for the invite-only ceremony.
Wing Commander Erica Ferguson, project manager for the trust, said: “It is so exciting that after seven years of hard work we are almost ready to open the Bentley Priory Museum.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming our appeal patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, and Battle of Britain veterans to the formal opening of the museum next week.
“We could not have come this far without the help of the team of volunteers, many of whom responded to my first request for help in the Harrow Observer back in 2009. We really appreciate the support of the Harrow Observer during the whole campaign to find a sustainable future for Bentley Priory. We are confident the museum will be a fitting tribute to The Few.”
During the Second World War, RAF Bentley Priory was the headquarters of Fighter Command, from where the RAF’s aerial campaign against the Luftwaffe was planned under the command of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill later coined the phrase ‘The Battle of Britain’ to describe the triumphant skyborne conflict.
When it was announced that the Ministry of Defence was to sell the site, the Observer’s campaign successfully sought to persuade the housebuilders and Harrow Council to ensure that any redevelopment plans provided space and funding for a museum.
Editorial director Kim Chapman said: “We are delighted that the years of campaigning by this newspaper and the dedication shown by members of the trust and other volunteers involved in this project are finally bearing fruit. The museum will rightfully pay tribute to our heroes of the Battle of Britain and will keep this historic landmark in Stanmore on the map for generations to come.”
Wg Cdr Ferguson said the attraction, which has been fitted out in recent months, will open to the public in October.
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