In the mid-1970s, Bill Brown, a friend of mine, and I used to spend time camping around Scotland, the Land of Mountains, Mist and Midges. For the most part, we explored the wild west coast, but one year, probably 1975, on our return home, we stopped at a place called Strathallan, on the eastern side of Scotland, to visit the air museum there. No digital cameras then. At RAF Cosford in 2011 I took 854 photographs. At Strathallan, in around 1975, with 16 shots on each rather expensive roll of film, I took 11 photographs. Strathallan is quite a remote place. Look for the orange arrow, resplendent in his kilt:
I didn’t realise at the time that Strathallan was well on the way to having to close, because of financial pressures. As somebody said, it was too remote from any large city and hardly anybody could be bothered to visit it. And back then, the motorway north of Edinburgh, the M90, simply did not exist.
That said, I was happy enough with the museum and I took photographs of the majority of the aircraft. Whether there were any more aircraft that I did not think were worth the cost of a photograph, I do not know. I can’t remember any more. That fact, to me, is plain scary. What percentage of our lives have we totally forgotten? 50%? 70%? 90%?
My favourite exhibit was their very colourful Avro Shackleton T4. The Shackleton was the last of the Manchester-Lancaster-Lincoln-Shackleton line and was used for maritime reconnaissance. I have clear memories of them flying over our house in South Derbyshire in the early 1960s. Presumably, they were following a Severn-Trent shortcut.
Here’s my only photograph:
The stripes on some of the eight propellers are to stop you walking into them. Here’s a photograph taken by a proper photographer. I found it on the internet:
As far as the Avro Shackleton is concerned, the British and the South African Air Force were the only countries to use it.
Here it is in even stripier hue. This particular aircraft was operated by the South African Air Force.
My Dad once saw a man walk accidentally into the propeller of a Lancaster. It affected him for the rest of his life, I always thought. He only ever spoke of it to me once.
Strathallan’s Shackleton was broken up eventually, although its nose is now in the Midland Air Museum in Coventry. Not how I envisage my own eventual fate.
The museum had a Lockheed Hudson, an America light bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft, primarily operated by the RAF. It was a military conversion of the Lockheed Super Electra airliner, and the first ever large contract for Lockheed. Here’s the Model 14 Super Electra:
And here’s the Lockheed Hudson at Strathallan:
I would meet this aircraft again at Hendon and take three photographs of it, rather than just the one:
The kangaroo is the obvious link between the two encounters:
Next time, we’ll continue this mini-tour around the lost aircraft of Strathallan.