RAF Manston History Museum fundraiser for refurb, new NAAFI cafe and Nimrod restoration

The Nimrod being delivered. to RAF Manston History Museum Photo Doug Smith

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the roof was leaking, the electrics needed modernising and the exhibits and building were feeling tired and outdated, particularly as some parts of the museum were built in 1917 during the First World War.

The old entrance Photo Doug Smith

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.

New entrance Photo Doug Smith

“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.

Old shop Photo Doug Smith

“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.”

New shop area Photo Doug Smith

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.

Find the fundraiser here


  1. I would have thought that RSP would have chipped in. £10,000 is small beer, compared with the £300M they say they’ll spend on getting the airport going again.
    After all, Stonehill Park gifted the freehold of the site to the museum’s trustees. You’d think the new owners would make a gesture.

    • RSP have been very supportive and have already donated £40,000 and have promised more once the DCO has been granted. We just need to raise more money to get the project finished.

  2. I don’t think Riveroak care about the museums there, they would rather have that land to build houses when they fail to get an airport running. They wasn’t happy when SHP gifted them that freehold of the land. No, they don’t care about the history of Manston, all they are interested in is a dirty, polluting environmental hazzard of a freight airport. I sarcastically say “Come on Gale and Mackinlay, put your money where your mouths are and dig deep into your pockets to help this fundraiser”. It is afterall about preserving the history of the aeronautical side of Manston which is in their daily thoughts”.

    • Oh Really, are we still going on about ” dirty polluting aircraft” get a grip and check up on modern cargo aircraft please. Enough of the negative, having lived under the flight path when it was military aircraft (without loss of sleep or any physical damage) flying in and out I can only assume you live where you believe it will effect your property price. Take a long hard look at the employment possibilities for the young.

    • Give it a rest. Any opportunity to whinge, eh? You are getting very boring, how about supporting this worthwhile project yourself instead of being so negative?

    • RSP do care about the museum and have been very supportive and have already donated £40,000 and have promised more once the DCO has been granted.

  3. Good luck to this important fund raiser, let’s see whether our aviation obsessed MPs really do care about aviation heritage in their ongoing obsession with landing a cargo plane over the harbour at 500 feet every 12 minutes. Didn’t the USAF move out due to huge noise issues? I think the past has been recreated by so many supporters of cargo aviation, that popular hobby followed by millions.

    Read the DCO, the inspectors confirm a cargo hub will kill more jobs than it creates, along with the well documented impact on health due to aviation pollution.

    I appreciate many people think Tony invented electric planes, when he unveiled his electric barges but neither are true.

    If only TDC and others had got behind Stone Hill Park, their plans included a heritage aviation runway and other support to the museums and their important part to play in our aviation and historic heritage.

  4. I love the final paragraph about ” heritage” if we wish to assist british avaition heritage then stop moaning about the “noise” the object of this “heritage” make.

  5. It is absurd to suggest that in order to support heritage aviation we should be thrilled at the prospect of a cargo plane over our houses at 500 feet every 12 minutes.

    Going to an airshow once a year is hardly the same as living under the flightpath of East Midlands Airport is it.

    Luckily the DCO has been quashed.

    Good luck to the museums.

  6. Where did an airshow enter this dialogue? How about, born Ramsgate hospital 1953 when the USAF were in residence Hereson Infants, Hollicondane Junior school and St Georges(when in Church Rd Ramsgate) cycling to Manston to see the Battle ogf Britain film aircraft for a start, as for the airshows they were great as well. Oh and a career in the aircraft industry for understanding of aircraft and the noise.

  7. Read the DCO. It is all in there.

    Commercial aviation at Manston has never worked, and it never will.

    Now the DCO has been quashed, perhaps everyone can move on.

    I wish the museums every success in their fundraising and will be making a contribution.

  8. Don’t you love some of the rubbish the RSP fans write….

    “Mick Hodd – I understand the law is being changed this year to put Manston Airport under a different category Judicial Review will not apply to it under the new law.

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