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History of the building

The Grahame-White Watch Office is the oldest building on the Museum’s site, and was built in 1915 as part of the expansion of his factory.

The building included Claude Grahame-White’s office, the company boardroom, the accounts department and the drawing office and so was at the heart of his thriving enterprise.

The large balcony on the first floor would have given a good view of the aerodrome and was perhaps incorporated in the hope that the popular pre-war air displays and race meetings would return. The adjoining factory building was added during further expansion but came too late for aircraft production.

By the time the Air Ministry took complete control of Hendon in 1926 Standard Telephones and Cables Company (STC) leased most of the factory buildings, including the Grahame White Offices. In 1934 the aircraft radio section of STC moved to Southgate and the RAF took control of most of the factory buildings.

Before the Second World War the factory building were used as a vehicle store and later as a clothing store. During the war the Grahame White Watch Office became the airfield control tower, and continued in this role until the airfield closed in 1957. Parts of the factory had also been used as a passenger and freight terminal.

After the airfield closed various uses were found for the Grahame White buildings until the station closed in 1987. All the buildings on site were eventually left empty pending redevelopment of the site. As part of the re-development the Grahame White Hangar was moved to the Museum site, and re-opened in 2003. In 2010 the developers, St George, moved the Grahame-White Watch Office and reunited it with the hangar.