Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome

SMGWA is unique as it is the last World War I aerodrome to survive in it original form in Europe

Built between 1916 and 1919 it is set in around 79 acres of countryside and contains 24 grade II* listed buildings and a further 17 missing wooden buildings, including the Aeroplane Sheds (hangars).

The site biodiversity is also important as it contains many types of fauna, animals and birds, many rare and protected, and a memorial wood.

The new museum provides an interactive history of the site with examples of how a bedroom and the Station Armoury would have looked, plus the history of the Women’s Royal Air Force at the site. Children can experience the joy of sitting in a simulated WW1 Sopwith 1 1⁄2 Strutter.

“The heavens were the grandstands and only the gods were spectators. The stake was the world, the forfeit was the player's place at the table and the game had no recess. It was the most dangerous of all sports and the most fascinating. It got in the blood like wine. It aged men forty years in forty days. It ruined nervous systems in an hour.”

— Captain Elliot White Springs, 85 Squadron RAF and 148th Aero Squadron Air Service, United States Army, 1917

Ian Drake Design successfully won the tender to bring to life the story of the men and women who served at Stow Maries during WWI exciting and visually stimulating new exhibition.

The new museum includes dioramas, touch-screen kiosks, display cases and family oriented interactives. Working with the Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome Trust and the Museum Curator , we were able to successfully complete their new museum, on time and on budget.

As with many new museums new and exciting developments arise during the design and completion phases and Stow Maries was no exception.

A major part of the exhibition are interactive touch screen kiosks which enable the visitor to access the large database of information relating to the history of Stow Maries and the Royal Flying Corps. These kiosks were sub-contracted to a specialist AV company who liased with the Museum staff. During the coarse of the design phase it became clear that the Museum had far more information it wanted to make available than was originally intended and the decision was made to change the role of at least one of the kiosks to enable the museum to have a facility for ongoing research to be uploaded and modified.

Some elements had already begun when we came on-board, like the full size figures supplied by H & H Sculpure and Design, as well as the dioramas. Much of the pre- fabrication work was undertaken by the Museums very willing and capable team of volunteers.

The new museum opened officially in the summer of 2016 and has been very well received.

“Stow Maries is a special place and it is a very fitting memorial for those who gave up their lives to defend the capital and Britain against attack. I’d like to thank everyone who has worked over the last year or so to create this fantastic museum.

“World War One commemorations will begin soon and it’s important that we also commemorate the war in the air and defence of the home front and there is nowhere better in this country to do so than Stow Maries.’

— Mr John Wittingdale. Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Some of those who attended the opening included Mr John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, media and sport, Lord Petre and relatives of former flying officers station at the airfield during WWI.

You can find out more about the museum at