Transforming the basement area of a police station into a museum celebrating Hatfield's aviation heritage has won curators a coveted award.

The Bunker at Hatfield Police Station scooped one of the top prizes at the recent Hertfordshire Association of Museum Awards.

The ceremony took place at Hitchin Town Hall, with the awards assessed by an independent panel drawn from prominent heritage sector experts in the East of England.

Competing against all the other museums in the county, The Bunker won Transformation Project of the Year for its success in benefitting the local community.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The Transformation Project of the Year award went to The Bunker Museum at Hatfield Police Station.The Transformation Project of the Year award went to The Bunker Museum at Hatfield Police Station. (Image: Herts Police)

The Bunker, which launched only last year, celebrates the Grade II-listed building’s heritage as a former aircraft factory.

It includes photos, historical items, original film footage, dioramas and models that tell the story of the building from its origins in 1933 as the Hatfield headquarters of the de Havilland Aircraft Company, through to its current use.


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The museum was created as a public engagement initiative by Hertfordshire Constabulary to foster better relations between the police and the local community, particularly schoolchildren.

There is an emphasis on hands-on learning for schools, and visitors can handle historical artefacts from the war, as well as some of the modern equipment used by the police.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The Bunker’s air raid shelter.The Bunker’s air raid shelter. (Image: Herts Police)

The awards ceremony on Friday, February 24 also saw accolades given to PC Paddy Phelan and Police Support Volunteer Alistair Hodgson, who were instrumental in creating the museum.

Both are still working hard to ensure The Bunker remains a well-loved local attraction and crucially, a well-used police resource for engaging with young people.



Welwyn Hatfield Times: The de Havilland administration block before it became Hatfield Police Station.The de Havilland administration block before it became Hatfield Police Station. (Image: The Bunker at Hatfield Police Station)

Welwyn Hatfield Chief Inspector Kash Hussain said: “I would like to say a big congratulations to Paddy and Alistair.

"They’ve worked incredibly hard to make The Bunker such a success and winning Transformation Project of the Year is no doubt a reflection of that.

"We’ve had huge interest from local community groups and schools since The Bunker was launched last year and it’s proving to be an invaluable tool for building better engagement with the public.”

Both PC Phelan and Alistair Hodgson won 'Heritage Hero' awards in a category which recognised exceptional contributions of volunteers to their museums.

PC Paddy Phelan said: “It was an absolute honour to receive these awards. The Bunker was an ambitious project and I’m pleased that all the hard work has paid off.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Artefacts on display in The Bunker museum in Hatfield.Artefacts on display in The Bunker museum in Hatfield. (Image: Hertfordshire Constabulary)

"Community engagement is such an integral part of policing and The Bunker allows us to engage with locals in a unique and exciting way.”

Alistair Hodgson added: "For a museum curator it's a real privilege to be able to start up a museum from scratch and choose which stories you'd like to tell.

"The great thing about The Bunker was that the building has so much history, so there was plenty of material to work with - I'm delighted that it has worked out so well."

The Bunker holds regular open days for members of the public to attend.

There are upcoming open days on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, April 16.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: A previous open day at The Bunker in Hatfield Police Station.A previous open day at The Bunker in Hatfield Police Station. (Image: Hertfordshire Constabulary)