‘York needs a new attraction – and our 1930s Airspeed museum is it’

Nevil Shute Norway. Photograph: Yorkshire Air Museum
27 Dec 2013 @ 10.42 am
| Opinion

This slideshow by the Yorkshire Air Museum walks you through their planned museum

ian-reed-headshotReynard’s Garage in Piccadilly is up for redevelopment. The York council leader favours a hotel on the site, but the Yorkshire Air Museum wants to celebrate the building’s heritage as an aviation factory. Ian Reed explains why

Our enterprise is no threat to the fragile state of businesses in York centre. If there is more pressure on businesses (shops, hotels etc) then the city will become a wasteland of empty shops and destroy what we are all trying to achieve.

After 30 years people are at last realising that industry is no longer York’s future. Tourism is. We must embrace that properly and with the growth of visitors from two million to seven million in just a few years we cannot sit on our hands, but we must grow with it.

York has had a very few new attractions in the last 30 years. It cries out for things for people (and families) to do rather than just encouraging more hen and stag parties.

Airspeed is York story. It is not another generic attraction but a unique York idea and builds upon the strong York brand.

It is a marketing dream. Bear in mind this is not an air museum. Nor is it all about the original aircraft factory.

It is a 1930s experience attraction with all the excitement of that revolutionary period of our past. New ideas and inventions, new fashions and designs, new challenges to be conquered and new entertainments to be thrilled by.

Airspeed and York

Nevil Shute Norway. Photograph: Yorkshire Air Museum
Nevil Shute Norway. Photograph: Yorkshire Air Museum

Airspeed Limited was an aeroplane factory based in York. One of the founders, Nevil Shute Norway, later found fame as the writer of A Town Like Alice.

Airspeed rented half of the old Reynard’s bus garage in Piccadilly and set about building aircraft. The venture was a success, but York was backward in creating the aerodrome the company needed to expand – and so in March 1933 Shute moved Airspeed to Portsmouth, which had a new municipal aerodrome on the edge of town.