A small permanent RAF Drem Collection and Exhibition is open to the public (free admission) under the auspices of the Arts & Crafts Gallery, at Fenton Barns Retail Village, on the site of the airfield. The buildings that house the gallery were originally built by the Air Ministry in the late 1930s in anticipation of World War Two. The main gallery, where the exhibition is located, was the Women's Auxiliary Air Force's dining area and sergeants' mess. The adjacent buildings included their shower and decontamination block.

The exhibition at Fenton Barns has been open since July 2003, and features a growing collection of interesting artefacts, photographs and maps relating to the airfield and surrounding area. The nucleus of the exhibition is displayed atmospherically in a small room reminiscent of a command centre, the walls being shrouded by an old military parachute canopy. Many local residents have generously come forward with items and photographs for display. Exhibits may be donated or placed on loan, and when displayed, are properly acknowledged to their donors. In addition to items specific to Drem, more general items such as RAF uniforms and equipment are also sought for inclusion in future projects. One of these is to recreate part of the WAAF Mess.

It is expected that the Collection will continue to grow and the exhibition hopefully become a significant attraction in East Lothian. The Collection has already become firmly established in these past few months, and met with enthusiastic praise from visitors.

The majority of funding for the Collection comes from public donations, however our supreme gratitude goes to Priscilla and Morton of the Arts & Crafts Gallery at Fenton Barns, without whom the Collection would have no home, and the Exhibition would never have existed.

Collection Exhibits

The following are a small selection of items from the RAF Drem Collection:

Left: (D2) Loudspeaker from the original RAF Drem public address system, circa 1939-1940.

Right: (D1) Variable-pitch propeller blade from Fleet Air Arm version of the Supermarine Spitfire, the Seafire, circa 1943.

Left: (D3) Oxygen bottle from a Luftwaffe bomber shot down in the Firth of Forth. Dated 1940, this was recovered from a beach in Fife and found to have pressure remaining inside after 60 years in the sea!

Right: (D4) Fragments of a German bomb dropped near Dunbar in 1942. When recovered, they were still too hot to handle.

Left: (D13) Security poster, recovered from an engine repair shed at RAF Drem in 1974. Early 1940s.

Right: (D16) Belt of inert British 20mm Cannon Shells, as used in later marks of Spitfire. 1942/43.

Left: (D22) 1:72 scale model Supermarine Spitfire. Of aluminium alloy, this type of souvenir was very popular during World War Two, made from melted-down aircraft structure. 1940s.

Right: (D25) Cockpit compass from a Supermarine Spitfire. 1940s.

Left: (D26) Tailwheel from a Drem-based Boulton-Paul Defiant nightfighter which crashed near Kingsbarns village, 2 miles from the airfield, in 1942.

Latest Acquisitions, D33-37: Air Ministry Compass Type P.10; Air Ministry Signalling Lamp Type B; Two Boost Gauges; Altimeter c.1920s; Engine Oil Compressor.

Our gratitude to the following, who have kindly donated or loaned items to the Collection:

Morton Houliston, Jim Anderson, Archie Campbell, Jim O'Donnell, Fiona Harvie,
Ian Rennie, Ron Telford, Paul Allison, Keith Chalmers-Watson, Mike Collins.

We also wish to thank all those visitors to the RAF Drem Collection & Exhibition, who have donated to its maintenance and development.

Photos on this page courtesy of Derek Braid, Braid Image

Where is the Collection
and how do I get there?


Colin C Hendry
(Collection Curator)

Contact us at RAF DREM

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