During the 1994 change of RAE to an Agency and then to private ownership in the form of QinetiQ, the photographic collection was partially split up - some images going to the Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum, the remainder coming under the control of the Public Record Office and remaining at Farnborough. Later this Farnborough collection was transferred to the care of FAST on a temporary basis and then being confirmed as a permanent transfer after the probationary period.
The collection arrived in the form of various sized glass plate negatives, standard film negatives in large and 35mm format and a number of old glass projection glass slides and 35mm colour slides - in fact, virtually all formats available over almost 100 years. The glass plates arrived in their original brown envelopes, which had started to deteriorate with time and environment, and with an initial grant from the Hampshire Museums Service, we are well into the re-enveloping of all plates and negatives into modern museum quality environmentally correct envelopes as they are catalogued.
The cataloguing of the collection into an electronic database allows, of course, the ability to search the database under a number of headings, but also allows FAST to complete a definitive database of how much of the collection is left - many of the negatives and plates having been destroyed or lost in its 100 year history.
On a further historic note, the RAE photographic records - recording the details of each plate (date, place, for whom & which department photographed, name of the photographer etc) - are complete from 1912 onwards. RAE photographed nearly all of its experimental work and a peruse through the records allows a fascinating view into the temporal progress of technological and scientific experimentation and research at RAE Farnborough and its outstations and this is further supported from the extensive complementary collection of RAE (and Royal Aircraft Factory) reports and memoranda.
A recent collaboration has been formed, under the FAST banner, with RAE Bedford and a group of ex-Bedford staff are sorting and cataloguing the extensive photographic and film archive.
Cine Film and Video
As with the still photograph collection, FAST has inherited the RAE collection of cine film in 35mm, 16mm and some 8mm formats. This extends from edited films on research at the RAE and MoA/MoD films on research and development in it wider range of UK research establishments (eg RPE Westcott, Aberporth ranges, RRE/RSRE Malvern etc) to true research filming of flight trials, wind tunnel testing, guided weapons etc, where content was more important than format.
As other formats, mainly video-tape, became available, a number of different formats came into use -conventional VHS and Super VHS through to U-Matic - and these form part of the collection.
Access to the Photo Collection
Until the completion of the electronic database, which is well underway, it is now possible to manually search the written glass plate photographic database by RAE reference number, title and date. Upon completion of the electronic lists, they will be available for perusal via this website.
Photographic Access to the Collection Artefacts
Photography in the Museum is allowed in all areas. If the artefact is in the reserve collection the first contact should be through the Museum Manager, preferably by e-mail or by telephone on 01252 375050, where individual arrangements can be made.
The first contact for all photographic issues will be through the Museum Manager, preferably by e-mail or by telephone on 01252 375050.