The Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum at Manston is appealing for support of its plans to expand the site.
Plans are to create a new building which will house a classroom for school visits and a dedicated area for artefact storage with space to carry out conservation and restoration work on items held in the museum collection.
This will also free up space within the museum for new displays.
The museum charity needs to raise around £150,000 to carry out the project and the team is hoping people will donate to its fundraiser which was launched earlier this year to help with the costs.
Museum chairman Simon Collins said: “The Museum is a registered charity offering free access for all to a unique site housing a Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI and a Hawker Hurricane IIC.
“In addition to the aircraft, we house a large collection of objects, uniforms and artefacts which tell the story of the Royal Air Force at war and life on the Home Front. We also maintain an Allied Air Force Memorial Garden in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the conflict. This is a place offering quiet reflection in pleasant surroundings.”
The Museum was founded in 1981 by the Royal Air Force to house ‘The Manston Spitfire’ which had served as the station ‘gate-guardian’ aircraft since 1955. The building was funded by donations from the community.
In 1988 a further gallery building was erected to house the Hawker Hurricane IIC and this was again’ funded by donations from the community. Since then, the administration and storage facilities have been housed in a portacabin that was provided by the Royal Air Force.
The Museum is staffed almost entirely by volunteers from all walks of life. They staff the gift shop, look after the Memorial Garden and grounds, maintain the collection and displays, and instruct on the Spitfire simulator. All funds to run and maintain the Museum are raised by donations, purchases from the gift shop and by customers who fly in the Spitfire simulator.
Mr Collins said: “Since 2018 ‘The Manston Spitfire Experience’ Spitfire simulator in the Spitfire Hall has proved successful in terms of fundraising and providing a way for the museum to meaningfully engage with visitors including the Air Training Corps and local Scout Groups.
“However, the space occupied by the Simulator previously facilitated school visits and these have therefore become difficult to accommodate since its introduction.
“We are currently planning another ambitious project in the form of the extension to the museum building to replace the portacabin with a larger permanent building. This new building will include an education space so that we can better accommodate the needs of local schools when they visit us and also benefit local community groups.
“We anticipate our building project will cost somewhere in the region of £150,000. Whilst it is an ambitious project, we feel we have a duty to develop the concept of an education space to further our community engagement, the education of the general public and to remain a focal point for remembrance and reconciliation in years to come.
“A donation of 8,000 bricks has been pledged by H.G. Matthews of Chesham Buckinghamshire, who have been making traditional handmade bricks since 1923”