This unassuming museum has been nearby all my life, but I’ve only just visited for the first time on the most recent bank holiday Monday. It’s hidden away off a lane near the M25 just South of London Colney, but the brown signage should you get you there as long as you realise the final turn really is into a single track lane seemingly heading off to nowhere. In fact it takes you pretty much through the front gardens of a set of delightful country houses complete with a huge mill pond and then into the small car park for the museum around a tight corner.

Dehavmosquito

It’s rather hidden away and it doesn’t look like there’s much at first, beyond a few small and slightly dilapidated buildings. However we were there much longer than we expected – a couple of hours in fact – and were really impressed. The whole museum has an old world charm, partly because of the subject matter and partly because it’s clearly the pride and joy of a lot of volunteers who keep it running. There’s no slick commercialism here, but there’s something much better: a couple of old guys restoring 60 year old wooden warplanes amid thousands of artefacts in various states of disrepair, with some pretty decent labelling and narrative to explain it to you. The old guys will happily explain it to you directly if you engage them.

Dehavcockpit

I’ve flown as a passenger in plenty of planes, but only very modern ones. It was particularly interesting to climb into the various old passenger planes to see what a flying traveller used to experience. Answer: great big comfy seats, crystal decanters, but not enough room to stand up and a toilet behind a curtain. The cockpits are quite fascinating too – all wires and pipes and switches.

Overall – a great museum that really impressed. Watch out for opening times though, and figure out where you’re going before hand! Check out the De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre website.

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