Brick By Brick: Rebuilding Our Past
BBC2, 9pm Friday 6th April
The Grahame-White Watch Office at The Royal Air Force Musem London is the subject of an hour long documentary on BBC2 this Friday.
On Good Friday at 9pm BBC2 will be showcasing the Royal Air Force Museum's Grahame-White Watch Office Restoration Project in a documentary that explores the building’s dismantling brick by brick from its original site, the salvaging of its original materials, its relocation to the Museum's site and its final restoration to its full 1915 glory. A task made all the more difficult by the 25 years of vandalism and decay the building suffered since closing to the public in the mid 1980s.
During the course of this restoration process architectural engineer Charlie Luxton will guide viewers through this vast and complex three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle as it is pieced back together; whilst exploring the traditional crafts necessary to restore the dilapidated Grahame-White Watch Office; and discovering the challenges that the building’s original construction created for the restoration team. At times, things are not quite what they seem, and rather than correcting the mistakes of the past both architects and the restoration team adhere to the original drawings and errors to reconstruct the building as it actually was during its hey-day.
At the same time, architectural historian Dan Cruickshank investigates the building's history, discovering the incredible stories it has to tell of the people who worked, slept, played in its environs.
People such as Richard Thomas Gates, the Grahame-White factory’s first manager and the first serving pilot to die defending London from aerial attack during the First World War ; female workers such as Miss Pilkington for whom working at the factory was an escape from the day to day drudgery of unskilled labour offered to women at the time; and of Claude Grahame-White, a man very nearly written out of the pages of history by an Officer and Upper Class who showed him little or no respect for his achievements in the defence of the realm and his plans to turn Hendon into a major aviation hub, with the site that the Royal Air Force Museum currently occupies becoming the world’s first international airport.
This programme is the first in a series of three that explores the incredible stories of historic buildings as they are rescued from the bulldozers and meticulously resurrected in completely new locations; and will be broadcast on Friday 6th of April at 9pm on BBC2. After viewing the programme members of the public are welcome to examine the work of the restoration team for themselves.
The Claude Grahame-White Watch Office and Hangar is open daily to the public from 10am to 6pm and like the rest of the Royal Air Force Museum site is free for members of the public to visit. For further details about the restoration project, and the aircraft of the Grahame-White Watch Office and Hangar, please visit www.rafmuseum.org/london.