I read that South Gloucestershire Council has given permission for a Concorde museum to be built in Filton. As long as the local Green Party, or all manner of local fruitcakes, are not wheeled out to oppose planning we will finally have a museum for the most beautiful aircraft that ever graced the airways.
I hope I am not being particularly nitpicky in pointing out that it has taken a mere 12 years to come to this position, considerably longer than a decade when the queen of the airways has been allowed to stand in all wind and weathers. I grant you that when she was actually flying, she did not magically avoid the elements, but I cannot but think that it has probably done the aircraft any good since she last landed there in 2003.
2003. Good grief: I was there at the end of the runway, watching her land, the A38 closed off for the afternoon, people celebrating the pride of the city. It was an incredible day.
Soon, if we are not careful, aviation in South Gloucestershire will be little more than a museum piece. The entire airfield, currently still standing in chronic neglect and resembling an abandoned city after a nuclear explosion, is being flattened in order to provide us with an enormous new housing development, so vast that it will require at least five primary schools and at least one new secondary. We will still have Airbus, of course, and Rolls Royce across the road, but I cannot but believe that getting rid of the runway facility will ultimately be seen to be an act of folly. I say this not just as an anorak who likes planes, although this is true, but because it just seems right to have an airfield next to major companies that produce things that aircraft require, like wings and engines.
But still, the museum will be A Good Thing, attracting visitors from far and wide. My main concern will be the huge increase in traffic the new development will inevitably bring: will visitors actually be able to get there through the gridlock?
We all know, really, that the Concorde project was, in financial terms, am enormous folly, but it did create a lot of high tech jobs, even if the working class people who helped build it were probably unable to afford to fly on her! It always amuses me to think that the Concorde project, which was enthusiastically cheer led by the left wing MP Tony Benn, ultimately became a loss-making plaything of the very super rich Benn detested! Politics, eh?
Even seeing her today, before she disappears from view behind the development that is already sprouting up in the area, Concorde still looks as state-of-the-art as she did when she first flew in 1969. She has not deserved the neglect of the last 12 years, rotting away in the elements. Concorde was a world class design made by world class engineers and to allow her legacy to drift has been little short of a disgrace.