York museum ‘faces uncertain future’ after losing 92% of its income

The Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington
17 Jun 2020 @ 7.11 pm
| Charity

It is 35 years ago since a group of volunteers were given permission to start work on their vision for a unique museum.  

Since then, the Allied Air Forces Memorial charity purchased the site, restored the original buildings, and launched the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington.

Closed since March due to the pandemic, with 92% of its income from visitors and corporate hire and no government funding, it faces an uncertain future.

With 30 full and part-time staff and over a hundred volunteers, the museum normally welcomes 60,000 visitors a year.  

Site maintenance is continuing but most of the staff have been furloughed, with only a few able to work from home. 

Museum director Barbara George said: “Soon now we hope to receive news of government advice that will enable us to set a date to open once again and welcome everyone back.

“That date cannot come soon enough, as the museum is sorely missing the happy atmosphere of families enjoying a day out.

“As the world gradually begins moving once again, we are working hard to ensure that the museum is a place that local people they can bring their whole family to visit and feel safe, secure and just as welcome with us as in their own homes. 

“In the meantime, we are so grateful for everyone offering their support.”

How to help

Ian Richardson walking his 10,000 steps

One way to support the museum is by helping Ian Richardson, the museum’s head of memorials and heritage, achieve 10,000 steps a day to lose weight. He says: “Towards the end of the third week of lockdown I noticed that I had lost about two and a half pounds in weight, bucking the trend of many who seemed to be piling on the pounds.

“I went for a long walk one nice day and saw that by the end of the walk, I was over 10,000 steps. So, on the following Monday, I decided to set myself a challenge to really ‘spur on’ my weight loss and set myself a target of 10,000 steps a day, Monday to Friday.

“I then decided to suggest to my Twitter followers to support me by making a donation in support of the museum by linking to our donations page.”

Ian has now lost 15 1/2lbs and feeling all the better for it. He is also pleased that people have donated around £1,000 so far. 

Since some of the travel restrictions were eased, many of Ian’s steps have ben accomplished at the Museum, tackling too the maintenance of the Memorial Gardens with other volunteers who have stepped forward to help and to start to prepare the site ready to welcome visitors once more.

You can help Ian get thinner, support the museum in other ways, and find out about the reopening,  by going to the website.

Original wartime base

The original Control Tower before restoration in the early 1980s

The Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial is situated on the original wartime base next to Elvington Airfield.

The site, originally leased from owners William Birch and Sons then purchased in 1993, was extended from seven to twenty acres and the aircraft collection to 47.

The displays and aircraft collection cover the history of aviation from the earliest Cayley glider, through the experience of, and operation of, two world wars.

Among the aircraft, the star of the show is the reconstructed Handley Page Halifax Mark III;  hugely popular is the accessible Dakota and the impressive Cold-War Nimrod and Victor, all maintained by volunteer engineers and which never fail to attract awe and inspiration.

The original Control Tower in the centre of the site is now a Grade II Listed building. Historic England describes it as “one of a very small number of control towers on Second World War airfields which are either exceptionally well-preserved or have distinguished operational histories.”

 RAF Elvington was home to 77 Squadron Royal Sir Force with members from all over the Commonwealth from October 1942 to May 1944 and then the base of two French squadrons, 346 and 347, the only French heavy bomber squadrons of WWII.