RAF Beaulieu Exhibition

Every couple of years, myself and friends, with the help of a fantastic team of volunteers and other exhibitors, host the RAF Beaulieu Exhibition. The first was held in June 2022 across four days and attracted over 1,600 visitors. If you would like to be notified of the next one, please contact me and I will email when dates are confirmed.

If you have anything that you would like to contribute for us to display at the next exhibition, whether photos, documents, or artefacts from the airfield, I would love to hear from you.

Below are some photos from the 2022 exhibition, and text from the press release which was published in a local newspaper after the event.

RAF Beaulieu Exhibition press release – June 2022

As written by Gina Antczak of the East Boldre Village Hall.

“Excellent”, “Brilliant”, “Amazing”, “Splendid Display”, “Fabulous”, “Absolutely fantastic”, “Incredibly valuable” and “Congratulations” are just some of the comments left in the Visitors Book at the RAF Beaulieu Exhibition held over the four-day, Jubilee weekend, 2-5 June at the East Boldre Village Hall.

Most of the tribute for the exhibition must go Marc Heighway. He has spent the last few years researching the WW2 Aerodrome and collecting stories and photos from the families of those who served there.

Well over 1,600 people visited the event over the four days.

Many more people than expected were deeply enthusiastic about the exhibits. For some, the military history of East Boldre and Beaulieu Heath was an eye-opener, for others it provided a wealth of information they were previously unable to find out for themselves.

The exhibitors were particularly surprised at how many young people were so interested in the history and were wowed at what went on in this tranquil part of the New Forest.

In paying tribute to Marc for his work, the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, was delighted that the younger generation is picking up the mantle from people like the late Alan Brown who was a parachute instructor with the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment at RAF Beaulieu after the war.

Alan Brown was instrumental in opening up the history of the New Forest Airfields with his exhibitions and hand-written airfield books which he beautifully illustrated himself. He stressed how important it is for the younger generation to be aware of local military heritage, in particular as hostilities can flare up closer to home than we might expect.

A recurring ask from visitors was, “Can you please do this again?” Marc Heighway’s New Forest & Hampshire Wartime Association is planning on meeting this need with talks and further exhibitions scheduled at the East Boldre Village Hall. Those wishing to register interest can contact Marc at www.nfhwa.org

Marc and the trustees of the East Boldre Village Hall wish to thank guest exhibitors, Colin van Geffen and Philip Jewell for the RAF Calshot exhibits, Henry Goodall and Edwin Levett of the Friends of the New Forest Airfields, Nick Saunders from the Milton Heritage Society, Alan Matlock from The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust, Pete and Avril Harrod, Richard Reeves, those that lent items, exhibition sponsors, Robbie Thomas of the Beaulieu Model Flying Committee and Lentune Mortgages.

And, of course, thanks go to the unstinting volunteers who guided the younger visitors through the exhibition with a Kids Quiz, slaved in the kitchen, welcomed visitors at the door, marshalled vehicles in the car park and guarded the hall.

East Boldre Village Hall Chair, Mike Husband, “This was an extremely successful event for our Village Hall on a new section of military history which surrounds us. The public interest was outstanding. My very grateful thanks to all those people who made it happen.”