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 Shuttleworth Collection & the Swiss Garden 
Old Warden, Bedfordshire 
Tuesday, 14th June 2022

Fifteen members of the History Group visited the Old Warden Aerodrome near Biggleswade and we really couldn’t have chosen a better day. The sun shone continuously and it was the perfect day out.

The Collection was founded in 1928 by aviator Richmond Shuttleworth who inherited the Shuttleworth Estate in 1932 aged 23. He was fascinated by any mechanical object and this interest led to the nucleus of the present Shuttleworth Collection housed on the former estate. He collected old aircraft, repaired them for flight at his flight workshops at Old Warden. When the second World War broke out he joined the RAF volunteer reserve. He sadly died in August 1940 in an air crash on a RAF night training exercise. His mother carried on adding to the collection and after her death a trust was set up and now owns and operates the facilities.

On arrival, we were met by Carys who explained a little about the Shuttleworth Collection and the Swiss Garden and then played us a short video to whet our appetite! Following the video we all set off to make our way around the six hangars containing a treasure trove of airworthy vintage aircraft (1909-1950), agricultural and steam exhibits, veteran cars, classic motorcycles etc. And lots more! 

There are also WW1 aircraft which are still flying. Some of the exhibits may be seen flying at the air shows throughout the year. Mind you it was hard to imagine how some of the fragile structures ever left the ground!

Following a couple of hours checking out the exhibits it was time for some refreshment in the Runway Cafe who serve a good selection of snacks and meals. Once refreshed we spent the next couple of hours in the Swiss Garden which is an outstanding example of Regency fashion for creating landscapes in a picturesque alpine style. 

Designed as a pleasure garden, there are charming buildings and tranquil landscapes with views at every turn. 

Thirteen listed features including a colourful Indian Kiosk, quirky Swiss Cottage and stunning Grotto and Fernery. 

There are numerous lakes and ponds and invariably there was a seat to sit and ponder the tranquil scene. 

We were very excited to find a 40 year old Tulip Tree and could just imagine how the one we planted at Yarwell Mill for the Queen’s Jubilee will look in forty years time! 

There are beautiful resident peacocks roaming freely in the gardens and there’s a peaceful woodland sculpture walk, with lots of seating throughout to enjoy the park. All in all we had a brilliant day and agreed that it is a wonderful place to visit.

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