Bucket list – Part of our 2 challenges to ‘Visit 5 different air museums’ and ‘Visit as many family attractions in Lincolnshire as possible’
I know planes aren’t for everyone. Mark (the other half) isn’t a massive fan. But this place really is for everyone, even my husband! Jamie and I really enjoy visiting the Lincolnshire aviation heritage centre and it’s a great day out in the UK with kids.
About the centre
This air museum is located in East Kirkby which is in the heart of Lincolnshire, east midlands. It boasts to be the largest bomber command museum in the country. Seeing is believing. There is so much to see and read (if your child allows). It is the home to 1 of only 3 surviving fully intact Avro Lancaster bombers. Just Jane is her name and she can taxi down runways but currently can’t fly. The centre is working hard to get this beautiful plane up and in the skies once again.
They hold a series of events throughout the year. Mostly to try and raise money to restore the Lancaster. If you want to receive updates about their events then head over to their Facebook page.
The heritage centre is open most of the year, 6 days a week from Monday-Saturday. Please check their website before you leave home for what days and times they are open. Jamie is under 5 so admittance for him is free. Adults pay £8, senior citizens £7, children 6-15 years £2. There is also a family ticket, special forces ticket, additional children ticket price. Special events and event days are charged at a higher cost (see website for details and/or price changes).
As you can see from the photo above we visited on a very wet and windy day. It was a perfect place to visit in such conditions when you are looking to get out of the house.
Our day out
We started in the café with some cake and hot drinks. I can’t sing the praises of the café enough. It’s so nostalgic, it’s just like stepping back in time. There’s displays and photos to look at and the furniture itself makes you feel like you’ve gone back to war time (minus the ice cream stand).
There is a great range of cakes to choose from (we tried the carrot cake and lemon drizzle, both very tasty). All food is fairly priced and the meals themselves are great value for money. I can highly recommend the full English breakfast.
The main hangar
After warming our cockles and devouring our cake we battled through the wind to the main hangar. This is the home of Just Jane, the Avro Lancaster bomber. Normally she looks like this….
But while we were there it was interesting to see another side to her as she was all stripped down for her renovations and looked like this…..
The men working on Just Jane were really kind and friendly to Jamie. He’s waving at one of them in the photo! The people who work here have such passion and knowledge. There is so much to see and read, the hangar usually looks different each time we go. It was a bit of a shame for Jamie as he loved looking in all the cabinets but most were a bit too high for him. Some he could stand on the bottom bar, others he couldn’t. I think it would be a lovely idea for the centre to provide small steps for the little ones.
It is mind boggling and humbling to see all the pieces from crashed planes. Surprisingly and sadly, quite a lot crashed with lives lost in the UK. It’s really moving to read of their stories and to see so many crew photos from WWII.
One of our favourite things to do is to clamber into the cockpit in the remains of one of the planes. It has 3 virtually impossible spaces to crawl into. Obviously it isn’t like that in a Lancaster but it’s interesting to see the cramped conditions some RAF crew members had to fly in.
As well as planes there’s always a few vintage vehicles to look at too. With every visit, as Jamie gets that bit older, we manage to spend more and more time looking round. He was constantly asking us what the signs say and has a genuine interest. It is a truly great place for children to learn about WWII.
Lincolnshire was also the county where the squadron involved in the Dambusters raids were from. So there is quite a large section dedicated to them. Jamie had great fun watching the film of the Lancaster flying over a dam. They have quite a few interactive exhibits throughout the site.
As well as the displays they have quite a few folders of photos from various squadrons to search through. It’s nice for us to see photos from my Grandad’s 514 squadron. They allow you to contribute photos so next time we are there I will take some along so my Grandad and his amazing crew can be immortalised there.
The museum itself is on an original airfield from WWII. There is the original control tower. Plus bunkers, huts and various other buildings that make the whole place feel very authentic. You can also pre book to taxi ride in the Lancaster.
The control tower
Admittedly we kind of got blown over to the control tower by the wind. It was blowing at full force by now.
The control tower feels so realistic. There’s mannequins set up in a few rooms to show what it was like back when it was actually being used as a control tower. They also have authentic sounds playing. It is said to be haunted and certainly always feel a bit like that. Maybe it’s because of how well it has been set up. Jamie honestly could spend all day in there listening to the recording play over and over. He loves it, especially when the phone rings and no one actually answers.
There’s many other buildings and huts to look in with countless displays to look at. Including more mannequin exhibits, sound effects, a black out mock air raid with an Anderson shelter and an escape museum based on personal stories of escape and evasion. These displays have won a heritage award.
One of the warmest places for refuge on our blustery visit was the memorial chapel. It is a humbling place to rest but a welcome rest all the same. They have listed all the names of the aircrew and ground crew that died during WWII, which were from RAF East Kirkby.
And so ends our visit to Lincolnshire Aviation heritage centre. We are already looking forward to returning again soon. If you are looking for a day out with your kids while in Lincolnshire I can highly recommend a visit here. It’s a great insight into World War Two and there’s something to interest everyone. We spent a long time there during our visit and Jamie didn’t want to leave.
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