The Library

Link to Book Search Page

The Club library is entered through the Churchill Bar on the ground floor. It was started in 2002 following a very large donation of books by the late Frank Wootton. It has steadily grown and there are now over 3000 books related to aviation and the story of the Royal Air Force from the First World War to the present day. The subjects include aircraft, the organisations (Commands, Squadrons, Services, etc.), Operational Techniques, Equipment, Training, Engineering, Campaigns (World War 1, World War 2 and Post-World War 2, including events right up to the current Middle East situation). There is also a large collection of the memoirs of those who were there.

A very generous recent cash donation by Melissa John has enabled a start on expanding the under-stocked Post-World War 2 period. The shelves now include books on The Suez Crisis, The Cold War, Vietnam, Korea, The Falklands, The Gulf War, Afghanistan and Libya, to mention but a few. This has increased members' interest in the library, and led to the decision to run a trial of lending books to members which started in June 2015.

Book shelving has recently been increased to house the increase in stocks. Melissa John has also given a very beautiful desk for the duty librarians and their records at the information point.

Using the Library

The Catalogue

The library catalogue is on the Club website, and also directly accessible in the library from the two members' computers there. It has a search facility, and can be sorted by serial number, category, title or author. There is also a hard copy on the librarians' desk.

Procedure for borrowing books

A trial is under way to operate the library as a Lending Library. Members are welcome to borrow books at any time. The library is managed by a small team of volunteers, some of whom are normally there on Thursdays from 11.00 a.m. until 3.00pm, and they will be happy to demonstrate the borrowing procedure. It simply entails filling in a No Carbon Required slip giving the details needed. The NCR slip creates two copies – one (white) for the librarians' records, to be left in a receptacle on the librarians' desk, and one (yellow) to be handed in at reception when the member leaves the club.

For the trial, a maximum of two books may be borrowed at a time, for up to one month. Address labels are available on the librarians' desk if members wish to return books by post (at their own expense). When returning books by hand, please remember to return them to reception, not to the library. The librarians will collect and re-shelve them when on duty.

Members staying at the Club

You may borrow books to read in your room. No loan form is needed – simply return the book to the shelf it came from, or to the librarians' desk for them to replace on the shelves.

News on the shelves

The Club Library has just acquired four new books in the very popular Boys series, Meteor Boys, Phantom Boys and Harrier Boys Volumes 1 and 2. Written first hand by the actual operators, they are a valuable record of how the aircraft were used and what they were actually like to fly. Phantom Boys is by Richard Pike, author of Hunter Boys and two volumes of Lightning Boys. The book includes some splendid contributions and we are reminded that one of the primary tasks the aircraft had during the Cold War was intercepting Russian Aircraft prowling around our skies. The Meteor had the distinction of being the RAF’s first fighter, going into service in 1944 with the Rolls Royce Welland engine and taking part in WWII destroying 11 V1s. Amazingly Steve Bond was able to gain contributions for Meteor Boys from pilots who flew the aircraft in 1946 with no ejection seats or cockpit pressurisation. The book has chapters by F8 fighter squadron pilots, the FR9 fighter reconnaissance variants, the pure reconnaissance PR10 version and the night fighter versions, NF12 and NF14 which finally ended in 1965. Lord Tebbit, who has penned a foreword to the book, also shares his experiences in 604 Sqn as National Service fighter pilot. In parallel with these fighters, the Meteor T7 was absolutely vital as a training aircraft, giving pilots essential jet experience. Meteor Boys is a great read showing what a flexible resource the aircraft became. Finally the two Harrier Boys which cover the Cold War, the Falklands Campaign and the development of the Harrier II and the Sea Harrier. Unlike the other Boys books the aircraft is much more recent with a wealth of contributors. To borrow any of the books listed, simply complete a borrowing slip available on the librarians’ desk. Full details are posted on the Library Noticeboard. Happy reading!


The growth and strength of the library is due mainly to members' donations of books, or money to buy them. This has resulted in a high quality stock of RAF and aviation-related books. The aim is to continue to keep them up to date as new books appear. It would be very helpful if members who are planning to offer books write first to the Club (FAO Library Committee) with full details so that we can check their relevance and if we already have them.

Link to Book Search Page