By Zac Yates
Solway Aviation Museum in the UK has launched a £60000 funding appeal to rescue and preserve the world’s only surviving Blackburn Beverley transport aircraft. The last of only 49 ever built, the type was used for troop and cargo transport by the RAF from 1955 to 1967.
Beverley XB259 – which made the last flight of the type on March 30th, 1974 – was previously on display at the Beverley Museum of Army Transport at Fort Paull, Hull, and after the museum’s closure in 2020 the aircraft was sold at auction to Martyn Wiseman of Condor Aviation with support from Swiss banker Georg Von der Muehll. Wiseman had planned to move the aircraft to a new location where it would be converted to another purpose, variously described as an Airbnb-style bed and breakfast or a veterans’ retreat, and engineers removed the tail, outer wings and engines (the latter being listed for sale) in anticipation of the relocation. Several attempts to crowdfund the move didn’t reach fruition and in 2023 Wiseman said he would dispose of the aircraft and if there were no takers the Beverley would be sold for scrap.
The Solway Aviation Museum’s proposal will see XB259 dismantled and transported from Fort Paull to Carlisle Lake District Airport in Cumbria to join the museum’s collection of historic aircraft, including Avro Vulcan B.2A(MMR) XJ823. The work to reassemble and restore the Beverley will be carried out by the museum’s highly experienced team of volunteers. The appeal has been launched to help fund the lifting and transport costs for the huge sections of aircraft, set to begin in April 2024, as well as ground preparation of the new site. The museum had bid on the aircraft in the September 2020 auction and had been following the aircraft’s story ever since, museum chairman Dougie Kerr told Vintage Aviation News.
“The Blackburn Beverley XB259 could be a valuable addition to the Solway Aviation Museum due to its historical significance as a transport aircraft used by the RAF during the Cold War era,” Kerr said. “This particular aircraft might offer visitors a tangible connection to that period, showcasing technological advancements and military operations of the time.”
“This act of preservation not only safeguards a unique piece of aviation history but also honours the legacy of the aircraft. Displaying XB259 allows the museum to showcase the cultural and historical significance of the Blackburn Beverley, fostering a deeper appreciation for its role in military aviation. Moreover, it reflects the museum’s commitment to preserving endangered artifacts, enriching its collection and providing a valuable resource for education and public engagement.”
As of February 11th, 2024 donations approached the £15,000 mark. Contributions to the Beverley fundraiser can be made via PayPal. For more information on the Solway Aviation Museum visit their website at https://www.solway-aviation-museum.co.uk.