Against some stiff competition, Sywell Aviation Museum was successful in winning the ‘’Highly Commended’’ award in the Best Event category of the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum Awards 2018 which took place at Althorp House on 5th July 2018. The award was for the Museum entry ‘’The Night of Infamy – The Centenary Commemoration of the Zeppelin raid 19th October 1917’
In October last year and working with Sarah Beach, the headmistress of St James School, some 60 children were invited to the Museum as part of a project they were doing at their school to commemorate the death of Lily and Gladys Gammons, aged 13, and their mother, Eliza who were sleeping in the middle bedroom of their house in Parkwood Street, St James, Northampton when it was hit by an incendiary bomb dropped from a Zeppelin. The children were pupils at St James School.
The Museum has an extensive array of WW1 artefacts on permanent display one of which has direct relevance to the town and really was the basis upon which this event came about.
The children were given a guided tour of the Museum with particular attention being paid to the WW1 section where they were shown a cabinet which contains an incendiary bomb which had been dropped on Northampton and full details of the St James bombing which was the basis of their project.
To enable the children to further understand the project arrangements had been made for them to go airside at the airfield where, with the generosity of Matthew Boddington, they were able to get up close to a BE2 aircraft of the type which was used to attack Zeppelins. Thanks to the cooperation of Richard Grace at Air Leasing Ltd, they were also able to see an original SE5 aircraft, one of only two airworthy examples worldwide.
Finally there was a small ceremony commemorating the Gammons family and an engraved brass plaque commemorating the occasion was unveiled by the children and which now has pride of place in the museum above a display cabinet which contains details of the raid.
The entire event was funded by Sywell Aviation Museum from its own resources (we rely on public donations to survive).