Claude Grahame-White's office, as it looked when built during the First World War (┬ęTrustees of the Royal Air Force Museum)

WW1 flight pioneer's office 'reopens' at RAF Museum

Posted on on 28 April 2015
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The historic office of a British aviation pioneer has been meticulously recreated with period detail by the Royal Air Force Museum, using a sole surviving photograph from 1915.

Claude Grahame-White turned the rudimentary Hendon aerodrome, on the northwestern outskirts of London, into a major flying centre shortly before the First World War.

The RAF Museum, which now occupies part of the former airfield, has restored his office to pride of place on the first floor of the original control tower.

The recreated office (Photo: ©Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum)

From sumptuous surroundings that would grace an English country house, Claude Grahame-White directed his rapidly growing aviation business.

A sole surviving black-and-white photo was carefully analysed to get the detail right. The colour scheme had to be devised from a painting.

The RAF Museum says materials were sourced from across the world to ensure a 'time capsule feel' when entering the room.

John Waxman, the museum's Assistant Director said: “It’s wonderful to be opening up this room to our visitors and we have no doubt that it will appeal to a wide audience. 

"The room is a replica of the office where Claude Grahame-White developed his plans for British Aviation which in turn impacted the world. I’m sure it’s charm will resonate with those who visit.”`

Historic documents have been copied for display and handling by visitors - these are the Grahame-White Aviation Company's annual accounts for 1917 (Photo: Centenary News)

The Grahame-White Watchtower, housing the office, now forms the entrance to the RAF Museum's 'First World War in the Air' exhibition in the adjoining former aircraft factory.

The 1915 watchtower was itself rebuilt brick by brick after being moved from elsewhere on the Hendon site to make way for housing.

In 1912, Claude Grahame-White prophesied: "the use of well-trained corps of military airmen will revolutionise the tactics of war."

His Hendon factory grew rapidly during the First World War, receiving orders for planes from both the Admiralty and the War Office.

Centenary News toured the RAF Museum's 'First World War in the Air' exhibition just before it opened in December 2014. Click here to read more.

Information supplied by the RAF Museum

Images: ©Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum; Centenary News

Posted by Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News