A £65,000 lottery grant means a major exhibition at a Hampshire air museum is cleared for take off.

Solent Sky Museum in Southampton has been awarded a grant of £64,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to stage an exhibition entitled ‘Romance of the Flying Boat’ from the early part of 2017.

It will celebrate 80 years of the British flying boat. In 1936, Southampton became the centre of the world for flying boat travel with the introduction of the Empire Flying Boat services which connected the city with every corner of the British Empire.

Commercial flying boats were the cruise liners of the air, with cocktails bars, dining rooms and sleeping berths designed to carry rich passengers on week-long trips to far flung destinations. A flight to Australia would take six days.

The service started with C Class flying boats a forerunner of the Sunderland which saw extensive service in the war.

The war interrupted the service which continued in peacetime up until the late 1950s.

Solent Sky’s new exhibition will feature a spectacular recreation of the interior of an Empire flying boat, including a specially built flight deck, which will have disabled access.

The flight deck will be modelled on museum’s own 1943 Sandringham Flying Boat which has been on show at Solent Sky since 1984 and is one of only four surviving in the world.

Rare photographs and artefacts will also be on display, allowing visitors to experience the romantic lost age of flying boat travel.

Solent Sky’s director Alan Jones, pictured inset right, said: “Following the success of our popular Schneider Trophy exhibition, we can now place the whole of the Solent Area’s maritime aviation heritage on public display.”

He explained that the exhibition will be put together over the next year and will then be a permanent fixture.

Alan said the museum is keen to have any photos, memorabilia and memories of flying boats to add to the exhibition.

“Whether a pilot, stewardess, passenger or engineer, on civil or military flying boats, we would love to hear from anyone who participated in the flying boat era.

"Interviewers will record these stories, and we will have cameras and sound equipment to preserve this oral history.

“We are particularly keen to have menus or any of the literature supplied to passengers describing the trip and the places they would be flying over - they told their s a lot more than airlines do today.”

If you have any flying boat memories email aviation@spitfireonline.co.uk or phone 023 8063 5830.