About the Beverley Blackburn
In 1952, the world’s first Blackburn Beverley rolled off the production line at Blackburn’s (now known as BAE) site in Brough, East Yorkshire. A total of 47 Beverleys, named after the local market town where many of its engineers lived, were built for the RAF between 1952 and 1957.
It was to become one of the world’s largest planes and would go on to have an esteemed military career spanning more than 20 years, supporting a range of humanitarian efforts across Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Capable of carrying up to 30 tonnes of cargo and over 90 paratroopers, the heavy-weight transport plane was not a pretty plane, but became an icon the world over.
The planes were decommissioned in 1974 and the X259, the first model to ever run off the production line at Blackburn, was moved to the Beverley Transport Museum where it was to live out the rest of its life as a museum centrepiece. Many others weren’t so lucky; they were scrapped for a quick buck.
In 2003, facing financial difficulty, the Museum sadly had to close and the fate of the Beverley became uncertain. Thanks to the work of the Beverley Association and its friends, a new home was found for the icon; Fort Paull.
There it remained until 2020, when it was put up for sale along with all other artefacts after the owners decided to close after more than 20 years. By this time, it was the only Blackburn Beverley in existence.
A Secure Future
Not wanting to see the iconic plane go the same way as the others, Condor Aviation in collaboration with an anonymous benefactor, stepped in and purchased the plane from Fort Paull in September 2020.
Led by Martyn Wiseman, who is an historical plane enthusiast, Condor Aviation intends to restore the aircraft sympathetically to give those interested in aviation and local (and military) history, the chance to experience something unique and iconic.
The plane will be moved to Birchwood Lodge, a private airfield in Yorkshire, just a few miles up the road from where the Beverley was built, and will remain there until its final days. Members of the public will be invited to visit the site, and there are plans to create an exhibition of some of the additional artefacts purchased with the plane.
Condor Aviation is a specialist in aviation, restoring and maintaining a number of historical planes, developing custom aircraft and even developing experimental prototypes for a range of clients.
While it will never soar the skies again, the Blackburn Beverley could not be in better hands - Condor Aviation has some of the best aviation engineers in the country, and we’re proud to be able to play our role in keeping such an iconic plane in the region, just a few miles from where it was built almost 70 years ago.
Stage One: The Move
The first stage in moving the Beverley to its forever home will be to dismantle it and move it in parts. With a wingspan of nearly 50 metres, equivalent to two tennis courts end-to-end, and a fuselage so large you can fit a single decker bus inside, it will be an engineering feat in itself to move it.
We anticipate the dismantle, move and reassembly to cost in excess of £100,000.
We’ll be moving the plane in as few pieces as possible - ideally each wing individually, and the main fuselage as a single unit. There are a number of moving options we’re exploring at the moment, but it will not be cheap. We need your help to help safeguard the future of this iconic plane.
Any donation, however large or small, will help us towards our fundraising targets. Anything above and beyond our target will be donated to Help for Heroes.
You can donate £1 and become an owner of one of the 440,000 rivets that hold the beast together, or donate £250 for a historical guided tour of Yorkshire by air; we don’t want to let this icon go the same way as the others.
Stage Two and Beyond: The Future
Condor Aviation plans to restore the Beverley sympathetically so that it becomes a central element of the wider Birchwood Lodge vision. While plans are still in development at this stage, the intention is that the Lodge and the Beverley will become a retreat for those affected emotionally and physically by conflict.
Martyn’s family has been part of the extended RAF family for generations, and knows first-hand the effects that conflict can have on an individual. To see a loved one lose their sense of purpose or ability to go about day-to-day life unaided is incredibly heartbreaking - this is what has inspired both the work that Condor Aviation has carried out over the years, but also the reason behind the purchase of this iconic RAF plane.
Condor Aviation has been developing aircraft for those with disabilities for over 15 years, and wants the Lodge to become a haven for those with a passion for engineering and aviation.
Our workshops are in the process of becoming fully accessible so that those who may be struggling to find a new identity after coming out of the military, or those that have lost the ability to go about their lives as easily as before, can continue to fulfill their dreams and passions.
Plans will be shared publicly in future, once we’ve raised enough to move the Beverley to its forever home.
We would encourage anyone who wants to support this endeavour to get in touch; we would love for those who want to make a real difference to someone’s life to be part of our next chapter.