Historic aircraft, vintage vehicles and a stunning restored Swiss Garden provide year-round interest for groups at this top Bedfordshire attraction
Home to an extensive and unique historic aircraft and vintage vehicle museum, the Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire has now added a previously hidden and neglected Swiss Garden into its mix, giving groups of all interests something to enjoy on a full or half day tour. The completion of a £13.6million restoration to bring its rare Regency Swiss Garden back to life has added a new dimension to this great spot, which is ideal for group outings.
Shuttleworth Collection is located close to the A1, boasts free and plentiful coach parking, year-round opening and heavenly home cooked food that makes it an obvious choice for a group day out. There are generous discounts on admission for groups of 10 or more and a range of flexible packages have been introduced for 2015.
The packages allow groups to enjoy either the aircraft/vehicle collection or the Swiss Garden, with a combined ticket for both available and the option to include introductory talks and guided tours, as well as lunch or tea. With so much to see and do, dwell time has significantly increased and hungry groups can now pre-book a delicious lunch or traditional afternoon tea in the restaurant overlooking the aerodrome. Guided tours of the aircraft/vehicle collection or the Swiss Garden can be added for a small extra charge and an introductory slideshow and talk can also be booked – an ideal extra for winter excursions.
For a truly memorable visit, deluxe meal packages feature additions like wine, table linen and private dining in the atmospheric surroundings of an aircraft hangar or in the Swiss Garden, which can also be tailormade for individual groups.
THE SWISS GARDEN
Perfectly sized for a group visit, the Swiss Garden covers nine acres and is tucked away just behind the aircraft hangars. Created in the early 1800s, the restoration, which was completed last year, has transformed its once crumbling fairytalestyle landscape and buildings.
This rare Regency and Victorian garden now boasts restored buildings, bridges and ornamental structures, which act as focal points on a magical journey along accessible woodland paths, through grassy glades and past tumbling water. The garden’s 13 listed buildings and structures were carefully conserved during its makeover with its two-storey centrepiece – the Swiss Cottage – re-thatched and its finials re-gilded with 23 carat gold leaf. This year, group visitors will see thousands of shrubs and bulbs in bloom and the Grotto replanted with ferns.
The Shuttleworth Collection has almost 50 aircraft on display, dating from the first half of the 20th century. They include a 1909 Bleriot XI, the world’s oldest airworthy aircraft that is still flying today, a DH88 Comet, which won the MacRoberston air race from England to Australia in 1934 and a Supermarine Spitfire, which is currently being restored in the engineering workshop. There is also a fascinating range of vintage vehicles dating from 1898 to 1943 and motorcycles from 1900 to 1967 on display. Group visitors can explore the hangers and see the engineers and volunteers restoring the Collection’s aircraft and working to keep them in airworthy condition.
A regular programme of events including air displays, featuring some of the historic aircraft on display, runs throughout the year.
Discounts for groups are available.
GROUP RATES – AVAILABLE FOR GROUPS OF 10 OR MORE: Admission only: Collection £10; Swiss Garden £6; Collection & Garden £14.50 Admission with lunch or afternoon tea: Collection £19.00; Swiss Garden £15.00; Collection & Garden £23.50 Deluxe package prices available upon booking.
TOURS FOR GROUPS
Guided tours of the Swiss Garden or Collection cost £16 on weekdays and £25 on weekends for parties of up to 20 people. Larger groups can be accommodated on a separate, back-to-back basis. Slide shows are available on combined or Swiss Garden visits and admission costs £2pp for groups of 10 plus.
Separate Audio Tours for the Collection and Swiss Garden are each £3.00pp, with free downloadable Swiss Garden audio tours.
Shuttleworth Collection offers ample free coach parking. There is also a Visitor Centre with a large Gift Shop. The restaurant is open seven days a week, offering hot and cold lunches, drinks, sandwiches and snacks.
Shuttleworth Collection is open all year round (closed December 25/26)
Pre-booking is essential for groups, call Sandra Creevy on 01767 627924 or email email@example.com
Each driver receives a complimentary drinks voucher to redeem in the restaurant or a £5 meal voucher for groups of 20 or more.
The Shuttleworth Collection and Swiss Garden (SG18 9EP) is situated two miles west of the A1, where it bypasses Biggleswade, and is approximately 20 miles from junction 13 off the M1. For information visit www.shuttleworth.org