The RAF Manston History Museum is hoping the community will help in its fundraising drive to complete refurbishment and covid-secure works, create a new NAAFI café and restore a Nimrod XV229 plane to its former glory.
The museum charity opened in 1986 and is run entirely by volunteers. It holds a collection of planes and exhibits that reflect and educate on the history of Manston and its airfield. These date from the First and Second World Wars, from when the United States Air Force (USAF) was at Manston and other exhibits from the airfield’s history.
The museum is funded by its own income from admission fees and donations. Last year it became clear that the site needed some refurbishment, the roof was leaking, the electrics needed modernising and the exhibits and building were feeling tired and outdated, particularly as some parts of the museum were built in 1917 during the First World War.
Museum volunteer Tom Groombridge said: “Renovation and COVID compliance costs have exceeded our original budget and we have been closed since March 2020, so have had very little income. RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) have been very supportive and generous with the project and have helped where they can, but we are still hoping for support from the local community to help fund finishing this work and allow the museum to re-open when safe to do so.
“We are also adding a cafe to the museum. Permission has been granted to use the traditional N.A.A.F.I name and it will be a mini museum reflecting N.A.A.F.I‘s history. We have also completely changed the entrance and shop to a much more spacious and welcoming area.
“We were also lucky to acquire and save the heritage of the Nimrod XV229 that was used for smoke evacuation training at RAF Manston Defence Fire Training & Development Centre. If we hadn’t saved the front 37 feet, it would have been another rare plane lost to the scrap yard. We are looking to restore it to its former glory, so visitors can appreciate both inside and outside of this magnificent plane.”
The team is hoping to raise £10,000 to start with and go beyond this target in the near future. RSP has given £40,000 towards the renovation and pledged more under the DCO, which currently needs a new decision from the Secretary of State.
Once renovation has been completed, funds will be raised to buy new exhibits and expand the museum. Plans to move the museum site are still existent under the DCO, if it is regranted, but would not come into effect for 2-3 years.