The Royal Artillery Museum is delighted to be taking part in Heritage Open Days this year. From 14 to 17 September 2023, we'll be opening our stores at Wood Road through a limited number of pre-booked tours as part of this fantastic England-wide event. Visitors will be able to view some of our historic collection as well as find out about the unique history of building that houses it.
Heritage Open Days is England’s largest grassroots heritage festival involving over 40,000 volunteers and 5,000 events. Each year, places across the country throw open their doors and give people the chance to see hidden places and try new experiences for free.
Visitors to our stores at Wood Road will have the opportunity to see some unique and fascinating items from our historic collection including artefacts from our small objects store, as well as twenty of the finest historic field guns in the country, dating from the seventeenth century to the start of the Second World War. This part of our collection is currently housed in the oldest surviving aircraft hangars in Europe, giving those attending not only the opportunity to go behind the scenes in our stores and explore historic field guns but also find out about the birthplace of British military aviation.
The Wood Road hangars are Listed Grade 2* and were built in 1910. That year, pilots flying from these sheds took part in a major military exercise that finally convinced the Army there might be a use for aircraft in war. Larkhill became Britain's first military airfield, but was only operational until 1914, and the sheds are now almost all that remains of this key moment in aviation history. Until last year, the sheds stored surplus furniture for the nearby Army camp but they have now been made available for use by the Royal Artillery Museum, providing office, workshop and storage space.
The Royal Artillery Museum’s collection was established in 1778 for training purposes and is one of the oldest and most significant of all military collections. It opened to the public in 1820 at the Rotunda on Woolwich Common, moving to the nearby Firepower museum in 2001. Firepower closed in 2016, pending the creation of a new museum near Larkhill, the modern home of the Royal Artillery. That project is ongoing - for the time being most of the collection remains in various storage locations and is not generally accessible to the public.
Limited places are available on Thursday 14, Friday 15, Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September and booking is essential. You can book your place using the following link: https://bit.ly/RAMopendays