Heritage Open Days | Effingham Bouncing Bomb Inventor Remembered 80 Years On

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Operation Chastise, commonly known as the Dambusters Raid, an attack on German dams using “bouncing bombs” developed by Effingham resident Sir Barnes Wallis.

As part of Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture, an exhibition of illustrated displays and films about Sir Barnes Wallis’ life and role as author of Operation Chastise will take place on Saturday, 9th September, from 9 am to 5 pm, in the impressive 15th Century Grade II listed Tithe Barn in Little Bookham (free entry and no booking required).

Sir Barnes in his garden in Effingham watching the Vulcan flypast for his 90th birthday in 1977.

The exhibition is curated, with permission and support from Sir Barnes’ surviving family members and Brooklands Museum, by Vivien White, a local historian and author of a short book, “Not Just Bouncing Bombs”, covering his life and career and includes many previously unpublished photographs.

Not Just Bouncing Bombs by Vivien White


    Descendants of Sir Barnes Wallis with exhibition curator and author Vivien White 

Vivien White, who is also the current chairman of Effingham Residents Association, says, “As well as being remembered as the inventor of the bouncing bomb immortalised in the film The Dam Busters and as an innovative, forward-thinking inventor and engineer, Sir Barnes was a long-term resident of Effingham who contributed a great deal to village life and governance. He referred to his home as “the best village in England” and, following their wishes, Sir Barnes and his wife were buried in the churchyard of Effingham’s St Lawrence Parish Church.”

Sir Barnes and his wife Mollie in their garden at White Hill House 

The exhibition is part of the Effingham and Little Bookham Heritage Open Day. Interesting historic properties in the area can be visited by walking the Effingham Heritage Trail and Bishop’s Walk, including All Saints Church associated with the Tithe Barn and St Lawrence Church, where Sir Barnes is buried.

Sir Barnes opening the King George V Hall in Effingham

The Tithe Barn is one of the largest in Surrey at 4,500 sq ft. Information about its history will be on display. Refreshments can be enjoyed in the barn or in the terraced courtyard garden. Families with children are very welcome.

The Tithe Barn, Manor Farm, Manor House Lane, Little Bookham, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT23 4EW. Limited parking is available on site, with further parking at the neighbouring Manor House School (also open). Visit:  https://effinghamresidents.org.uk/effra-summer-2023-newsletter-heritage-open-day-leaflet-published

2019 Barnes Wallis Exhibition at The Tithe Barn in Effingham


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