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Review Highlights
What a lovely way to remember "the few."

Tucked away along the road from Hawkinge to Paddlesworth, there lies a set of hangars, full of... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
robertgrieve24
,
Folkestone, United Kingdom
A memorial to "The Few".

A well worth visit. A splendid and fitting memorial to all of those young men who gave their lives... read more

Reviewed 31 October 2018
Jenny N
,
Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
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All reviews on display personal stories both sides take photos entrance fee run by volunteers brave men brings home interesting items their lives second world war couple of hours tea room a real gem amazing collection full size wealth of information
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Reviewed 5 April 2018

The RAF’s Battle for Britain was largely fought over the Dover Straights and in the skies of Kent, and RAF Hawkinge in its day was a front line RAF air station, acting as host to many RAF squadrons who fought for ownership of the English sky during that Autumn, Over the years many squadrons visited but only stayed a few days. This museum is well worth a visit, but unless you are an aficionado of aircraft scrap, prepare to be disappointed.
The first challenge is that the site is difficult to find hiding behind a bus terminus in a housing estate. There is a notable lack of brown Historic Britain road direction signs, and the Council obviously does not see fit to promote the facility by signage. The few brown plates that are on display are small, difficult to spot and badly located. As you approach a Roundabout, advance signage is missing, and only displayed on some exit signs, tie wrapped to a support leg. The Museum states that the council will not fix signage permanently and that they therefore become prey for souvenir hunters.
A GPS place finder is essential CT18 7AG. Trying to spot overgrown street names is a mugs game.
The Museum Team and the Council seem to be at Daggers drawn, said to be because the Council wants the land for much needed housing, and thinks the Museum could and should be relocated.
The airfield Land under the new housing estate was apparently never properly cleared of wartime debris. Gardeners frequently find broken Pipe Mines and pits filled with asbestos and rubble that were bomb holes, and buried concrete foundations of prior airfield installations. A munitions Disposals team is on 7 day call out to remove any munitions found on the estate by gardeers.
The museum provides no history of the airfield from the early days of WW1 to its close for Housing Build in 1970

The Museum uses the Strapline of ‘get up close and check it out’, but everything of interest is stacked up like a junk shop behind barrier ropes and viewable only from a safe distance, and with only poor quality signage. This Museum has all the presence of a back shed store room, and could do so much better with the material.

The Museum itself has a free car park and comprises a few of the original airfield buildings, with a gate charge of £8 payable only in cash, a bit of a downer if you’re a visiting as a family. There is a crowded souvenir shop of things of RAF connection, but the shop does not accept credit cards, due to high transaction charges. Under duress, they will accept a Cash Card payment, with a £2.50 service charge. The Gate Porter will also take charge of any telephone or photographic device you arrive with. They say it is for security but it is a thin argument. There is no descriptive museum guide to the artefacts available, to which the response was, ‘Visitors keep asking for a guide, but there is no demand for it. The displays are self evident!’
The exhibits are cramped together apparently at random, often the most interesting items at the back. There is a Defiant Airframe but it is fenced off behind dozens of scrap Supermarine engines, but there is no example of a non scrapped working engine to put them in context.
The Museum volunteers are all enthusiasts and keen to chat. There are the remains of over 700 crashed aircraft, bits and pieces displayed but with little identification of what the bits originally were. In reality this museum is a crowded scrap yard, interesting to the enthusiast, but not if you want to find out about the Battle of Britain rather than explore the remains of those 100 days.
There is an element that everything has to be displayed, often with not much expertise, or thoughtfulness and where signage was available it was overlong and difficult to read in half light and far too technical. Less would be better.
Do we really need to see over 1700 303 machine gun shells displayed, and expended shell cases but no display of how the bullets were fed into the machine guns, nor how the guns were fired. There is no gunsight display, nor how the short range of the Browning 303 guns at 150 yds was out performed by 20mmcannon of the Luftwaffe.
Also no rxplanationof how aircraft were numbered and identified, nor how the battle in the air was conducted and managed.
Overall, worth a visit but the Charity could do very much better in the 100th year of the RAF.

3  Thank KentishPilgrim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2018

I have been to this Museum 3 times now albeit at very long intervals - my last visit before today was at least 10 years ago. There are a wealth of exhibits to look at - dare I say there are almost too many - however their arrangement and labelling is not always the best and looks a bit tired and dated, with long descriptions laid out in capitals which are tiring to read and which do get a bit repetitive after a while. I spent most time in the first two hangars and did rather skip over the exhibits in the Armoury and Operations Block, as these were by then (after two and a half hours) too much to take in. I do feel the Museum would benefit from a thinning out of exhibits on view and displaying them in a less crowded fashion, rather than trying to show every object they have been given. In this case, less would be more. And maybe changing the exhibits on display every so often, so that there is something different to view on a future visit.

However I found the typed accounts and photographs of airmen in the main hangars extremely moving especially when displayed alongside mangled wreckage from the planes in which they perished - it really brought it home to me that these were young men who died.

I didn't actually spot much about RAF Hawkinge itself - maybe I missed it? There was model of the RAF station but this was only partly accessible as it was partly roped off and with other exhibits in the way.

It was disappointing that no photography is permitted however I understand their reasons and I was aware from reading the website that no cameras or phones could be brought in and so left them locked in the glove compartment of the car, and I found the staff friendly and polite and the lady volunteer on duty in the main hangars extremely chatty and knowledgeable.

It was a cold day and was chilly inside the museum, so wrap up warm. I didn't sample the cafe as it looked busy being a Bank Holiday.

I do appreciate the enthusiasm that has gone into preserving these exhibits for us and for future generations, and that the collection is maintained by volunteers, but I feel that with a little more thought given to the arrangement and display of the exhibits, this could be an excellent museum

1  Thank Chris H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 April 2018

Without a doubt there is a lot of history held at site and some interesting stories, and I would have liked to have read more.

However, I would like to point out that not many of us are giraffes and can read displays with poor type print which are at ceiling height, even more so when the displays are at height and are in narrow corridors, it was physically impossible to read the whole story. Equally it would be beneficial to keep artifacts together and not simply refer to another box.

If I'd known that you couldn't take camera's in, I probably wouldn't have bothered going. Due to personal circumstances it is necessary to document where my family and I travel, as a family member is suffering symptoms similar to dementia and we therefore try to put memory books together.
It was also disappointing that I got told point blank no mobile phones and no cameras and yet whilst walking around the museum I saw people with mobiles in hand and someone answered their ringing phone.. so not exactly consistent.

4  Thank Lisa P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 March 2018

thank goodness I wasn't around during the war.This gives a really good insight into the reality of the war. Very emotional.

2  Thank Pam R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 2018

I visited this museum as part of a trip while staying inFolkestone. It looked interesting and attractive from outside but inside was mind blowing and brought home to me (who wasn't born until after the war) how proud of their homeland these brave airmen were. To actually see parts of the planes made me aware of how vulnerable they were. The personal artifacts also made the museum more real. I would certainly recommend this

1  Thank shelagh511
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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