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Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart met this weekend with members of the management team and staff of the Solway Aviation Museum and visited their world-famous Avro Vulcan bomber, in a show of solidarity for the volunteer-run tourist attraction, which faces an uncertain future as a tenant of Stobart Air at Carlisle's airfield.
The museum's team is concerned at the potential impact of plans by Stobart Air to convert the site to a 400,000sq ft distribution centre, and the restrictions on their lease that prevent the museum for applying for funding. Rory Stewart has pledged to help find a way to ensure that the museum continues to operate and thrive on the site, praising its "unique role in preserving a fascinating era in national aviation history".
The museum, which is home to a collection of aircraft, aviation artefacts, and displays reflecting Britain’s position as a world-leader in aircraft design and innovation at the dawn of the jet age, is run by a dedicated team of volunteers who give up their free time to painstakingly restore many of the exhibits. Located for many years next to Carlisle Airport, the museum attracts upwards of 4,000 visitors each year and is one of the few remaining airport museums in the country. It is managed by a registered charity.
He said: "The Solway Aviation Museum is a real gem. Specialist aviation museums such as these are rare, and we should be especially proud to have one right here in Cumbria - not only celebrating Cumbria's place in aviation history, but celebrating great British traditions of design and innovation. The museum survives thanks to the passion and dedication of its volunteer staff, and I will certainly do all I can to help them to continue operating in these uncertain times. The Solway Aviation Museum is a unique asset to Carlisle's airfield, and so it would be very short-sighted not to ensure that it continues to operate here."
George Kerr for Solway Aviation Museum said: "Rory Stewart's support in Solway Aviation Museum's 50th year is critical as it seeks ways to secure its future and expand its role as Cumbria's only remaining aviation museum".
Picture shows from L to R, David Kirkpatrick (Finance Director), Rory Stewart MP, David Price (Chairman), George Kerr, (Communications Officer).