Blackburn Beverley C.1

XB261 Beverley

XB261

With the H.A.M from Oct 1971 to May 1983*

In 1952, the RAF ordered their first, highly capable freighter – the Blackburn Beverley. With the capacity to lift 23 tons of equipment and troops, the Beverley brought a sorely needed heavy lift capability to Transport Command and by the end of 1958, almost 50 aircraft had been delivered to the RAF. However, XB261 was not to be one of them and instead spent most of her service life at the Aeroplane & Armament, Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Farnborough. However, while her service exploits may not have be legendary, she was the only Beverley to cross the Atlantic, a fact recorded by the small, Canadian maple leaf that was subsequently stencilled onto her nose.

In 1971, being designated as excess to requirements, she was sent for retirement at Southend and on October 6th the growl of her four, powerful Bristol Centaurus engines Beverley XB261announcing her arrival as she passed over the town, after which she went on to make one, final, perfect landing on SEN’s runway. She was later taxied to the purpose built compound of the new museum that awaited her (by BAF F/O Tom Burt and Nigel Stockwell) where this aircraft with its massive tail boom that loomed so domineeringly overhead would become an object of intense fascination and interest for both the young and mature aviation enthusiast alike and indeed, it was in this very location that she would remain for the last 17 years of her life.

The Beverley often holds many special memories for former HAM visitors being as she was one of the few and certainly the largest aircraft inXB261 cockpit the museum to almost always keep her doors open to the public. Many who clambered aboard marvelled at her vast, voluminous hold, while the rear clamshell doors were occasionally opened during the summer months. Needless to say, the more adventurous would invariably climb the ladder to her upper floor and cockpit which sat high above the ground. However during the early 80s, her ever worsening condition forced the museum’s proprietors to restrict access apart from on special occasions. However, by early 1982 the deterioration had become so extensive that the Beverley had to shut her doors for good.

With the museum’s demise in March 1983 she was sold off although XB261 remained in situ, the buyer Ian XB261 stationHuddlestone initially employing her as a ‘gate guardian’ for the newly opened ‘Roller City’ that had taken over the main museum building. However, serious corrosion in the undercarriage oleos and stress fractures in the leading edge of the tail boom had turned this aircraft into a serious hazard and with no preservation societies waiting in the wings to ensure her survival, she was eventually JCB’d to death during the spring of 1989 with all traces of her being gone by April of that year. With the Hendon Beverley also being broken up during the same year, the future looked bleak for this aircraft. However as of 2016, XB259 remains in one piece at Fort Paull in Hull under the care of a dedicated group of volunteers. Sadly, the only part of XB261 to survive was the cockpit and part of the upper deck which first went to Duxford and then on to the Newark Air Museum where it still resides to this very day.

XB261 2