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The chairman's speech

By Gordon Hallam, chairman

What the Heritage Group have accomplished

The International Auster Club Heritage Group came into being at the Annual General Meeting in 2000.

It was created with the intention of recording and preserving the history of Taylorcraft Aeroplanes, later to be renamed Auster Aircraft.

It is interesting to reflect on some of the aims set out in the constitution created at that time.

To develop a number of projects to support the aims of the main club, but to also organise autonomous events that have a particular flavour associated with Leicestershire to attempt to obtain funding to support these projects to provide a local focus for the development of material particularly associated with Rearsby and its environs to provide a local contact point for ex-employees and other interested parties arrange events during the winter months to promote local interest to act as a focal point for the Leicestershire museums, arts and records service on matters concerning Auster Aircraft, its records and artifacts provide support and new material associated with the Auster company, its aircraft and its people for access, record, safekeeping and display.

These objectives have largely been met.

A successful application was made for a lottery grant.

Several books have been produced the history of the Auster aeroplane by Ambrose Hitchman and latterly by Mike Preston in its third edition Auster's. nearly all you wanted to know by Mike Preston and Mick Ames and finally, on the internet only, a further book titled – Auster's not just for fun

Opportunity has also been taken to interview as many ex-employees as was possible, so far 22 have been recorded and the tapes of the conversations lodged at the Leicestershire records office in Wigston.

These have also been put onto the Auster web site in both oral and written form and can be downloaded.

Permission was obtained to have prints of paintings created by Eddie Worral, ex-publicity manager of Auster Aircraft. These have been available to purchase for some time and are on display today – at an unrepeatable price.

Talks have been given by Mike Preston to local clubs and groups, for example the Leicester Model Engineering Society.

The Heritage Group have assisted the Snibston Discovery Museum at Coalville in augmenting the aviation wing, in the transport section. Two Auster's are displayed as are a bare fuselage, several artifacts and a number of informative display stands.

The group have attended the International Auster Club ‘fly ins’ usually putting up a stall to display and sell the books and prints.

And finally a very comprehensive web site has been created containing a great deal of historical material, including 5,000 photographs. This site is being updated on a regular basis by Ian Pawson.

Once the Heritage Group has been wound down the International Auster Club will keep the web site in operation.

Use of remaining funds

Over the past twelve years a great deal of work has been done in researching and recording the history of Auster's. The work is nearing completion as not a great deal more can be done.

We are conscious that time is not waiting for us – effectively production of Auster's ceased in 1968 – so our recollection of events must be fading.

However we are still working on completing the oral interviews.

We will still assist at the Snibston museum.

And finally in association with Ivor Vaughan, owner of the Rearsby Business Park , we are working on the erection of a commemoration plaque at the entrance to the airfield.

It will be like this (hold up pattern) and it will be set into a blue brick column.

Later this year we anticipate, together with Ivor Vaughan, having a formal unveiling of the plaque and we expect to be able to invite you all to this event.

As we are winding down the Heritage Group we don’t anticipate spending all our current assets although there may be, some costs associated with the following activities completing the oral interviews assisting the museum in any planned improvement and expansion of the Auster display the manufacture of the commemoration plaque winding down the Heritage Group

Our constitution dictates that on dissolution any remaining assets will be transferred to the International Auster Club.

The International Auster Club will take over the operation of the web site into the foreseeable future. They have asked me to stress that the passion for the Auster and of course Taylorcraft Aeroplanes lives on and more aircraft are being returned to flight each year.


I suppose the item credits is an unusual one for an AGM but because Mike Preston is no longer with us and Mick Ames is in poor health I feel that it is particularly appropriate to mention the work they have done for the Auster Heritage Group.

Mike Preston was the action man who caused the Heritage Group to be established and he worked extremely hard to ensure a lottery grant was obtained. He was also Chairman of the working group for the entire period.

Mike Preston and Mick Ames together compiled and edited a number of books some of which you will know and no doubt some of which you will have purchased. If you would like a copy they are on display and available to buy at the back of the hall.

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