Thieves target dead Concorde pilot's home hours after Antiques Roadshow features aircraft memorabilia

Steve Bird
Tony Meadows in the cockpit of Concorde in Bristol. - Anthony Ward / @bbcpointswest

The home of a dead Concorde pilot was ransacked by thieves who stole aviation memorabilia just hours after similar valuables featured on a BBC Antiques Roadshow programme.

Tony Meadows, 84, and his wife Paula, 83, were discovered dead at their home on April 2 in a suspected murder and suicide after Mrs Meadows had been suffering from dementia.

Five days later burglars broke into the couple’s farm in Bucklebury, Buckinghamshire, and stole Mr Meadows’ Concorde memorabilia, including cufflinks which feature the world famous supersonic aircraft.

The theft took place from 11pm on April 7, just two hours after an episode of Antiques Roadshow featured a Concorde pilot whose Breitling watch made for all the plane’s crew was valued at £20,000.

The programme, filmed at Aerospace Bristol, also showed the pilot, named only as Colin, being informed his collection of Concorde manuals, food menus and signed photographs from celebrity passengers was worth a total of £30,000.

Concorde pilot Tony Meadows with his wife Paula Credit: Ken Mason

Mr Meadows, who joined British Airways after completing National Service in the RAF, was part of the crew who flew the inaugural Concorde flight between London and New York for British Airways in 1977.

Thames Valley Police said the couple’s death, which attracted a great deal of publicity, was being treating as a murder and suicide.

However, officers investigating the subsequent burglary are not linking it to the BBC show “at this time”. The force is also not releasing detailed descriptions of the items taken.

A neighbour, who lives near the couple’s farm but asked not to be named, said: “It could have been irresponsible to air the programme after what had happened.

“The Antiques Roadshow probably plan each episode months in advance and had already filmed the episode so they just aired it. I doubt they put two and two together.”

Fiona Bruce presents Antiques Roadshow which is broadcast on Sundays from 8pm Credit:  Anna Gordon

It emerged last year that a pre-Raphaelite painting was stolen one week after it appeared on the antiques programme in 1988.

Commenting on the discovery, Richard Ellis, former head of the art and antiques squad with the Metropolitan Police, said criminals were thought to tune into the programme, if only to be able to identify the types of works of art that command a high value.

He explained that those appearing on the programme should consider whether they have “adequate protection” because it is tantamount to “running a flag up the mast to say, this is what I’ve got.”

A Concorde takes off from Heathrow Airport  Credit: Paul Grover

Shortly after the Bucklebury burglary, Detective Inspector Alice Broad, leading the investigation, said: “We are investigating this burglary in which it’s thought a number of items linked to Concorde and Anthony Meadows’s work as a pilot were stolen.

“These items have sentimental value to the family who have recently lost both their mother and father just last week.”

The Meadowses' farm is near the home of the Duchess of Cambridge's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, who both have worked for British Airways.

Jock Lowe, a fellow pilot, told how he had met Mr Meadows at a pilots’ reunion at the RAF Club in London where his former colleague had expressed his concerns about coping with his wife’s worsening dementia.