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A visit north side!

The north side of the site here at Duxford is where people lived, ate, slept and socialised. It is separated from the technical side by the A505.

Now most of the buildings are occupied by museum departments and other companies but the feel of the place is amazing!

Did you know there was a cinema there which is still kitted out with stage, screen and seats (although not the originals)? Like all RAF station cinemas, it is called the ‘Astra Cinema’. This is taken from the RAF motto “Per Ardua ad Astra” which can be translated in different ways, but in relation to the RAF is often reported as: “Through Struggles to the Stars”.

Cinema at Duxford

The building that housed the cinema was also used as a gymnasium and church. It was built in 1940 and extended in 1941. An annexe, to house the projection equipment for the cinema, was added in 1955. In more recent years, many staff remember it as being a rather grand location for meetings and presentations!

the cinema building

If you want to see this intriguing place for yourself then you can book on an ‘Unseen Duxford – North Side tour’. It is well worth a visit and the guides that conduct the visits have some great stories to tell!

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  1. sharon webb says: July 14, 20114:07 pm

    The ‘Unseen Duxford-North Side Tour sounds really interesting,I am coming to Duxford on sept 3rd,2011. How do I go about booking myself on this tour any help would be gladly welcome!I am a new DOF member and am really looking forward to making good use of my membership,any recomendations on what to visit at Duxford are once again gladly welcome as I am sure there are some places that get missed!

    • Sarah says: July 15, 201110:32 am

      Hi Sharon
      The tours of the north side happen on certain dates but if you ring 01223 499353 you can find out more information and book yourself in.
      When you visit, make sure you have a good look round behind the hangars. Most of the buildings have changed very little since they were built. Their use may have changed (many are now offices or workshops) but they can give you a really good taste of what the site was like when it was an active RAF airfield.
      As Historic Duxford takes shape, we are going to make it much easier for you to explore the site like this and find out more about the buildings and what people used them for.

  2. John says: December 15, 201412:20 pm

    Why is the cinema not assessable as part of the main museum complex? period films could be shown adding to the ‘Duxford Experiance’. Few people will know about the ‘Unseen Duxford North Side Tours & are missing out on the cinema.

  3. Carl says: March 9, 20155:00 pm

    Sorry for the delayed response, John, I’ve been working full time on the American Air Museum and have not been checking the blog comments as regularly as I should.

    I’d love to see more people experiencing the north side, as it’s a great part of the site and really brings different elements of Duxford’s history to life. Unfortunately, it’s just not practical to manage the movement of visitors over that side of the road and still use it as a working part of the museum – it is home to lots of the museum’s collections, such as documents, uniforms etc.

    The best we can offer at present are the regular tours, and hope that those visitors who are interested are able to pre-book and take part. We hope too that the Historic Duxford exhibition also gives people more of an idea of what the domestic site was like, and that this helps to make up for not being able to head over there as part of a regular visit.

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