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Fri, Apr 07, 2023

Cornwall Aviation Heritage Museum Under Dire Threat

Please, Help

The U.K.’s Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre’s (CAHC) one-time plans to relocate its collection of lovingly curated aviation artifacts to a new site have received a devastating blow of the maliciously Machiavellian type all too common in today’s impersonal world.

The Cornwall Council has set forth that the museum must vacate its current premises immediately—notwithstanding the stone-cold fact that the facility’s new site will not be ready for 12 to 18 months.

Alas, immediately, in the parlance of the Cornwall Council, means IMMEDIATELY. The body informed the CAHC on 04 April that the museum’s current site must be cleared of thousands of valuable and vulnerable heritage exhibits by 11 April—one scant week from the date of the vacate order’s issuance. What’s more, the Cornwall Council has asserted that any exhibits not cleared out by 11 April will be “disposed of” by the council’s agent.

The CAHC was certain its museum’s future had been secured when local land-owner and businessman Rundle Weldhen offered the organization a new site adjacent Cornwall Airport Newquay (NQY) and entrepreneur philanthropist Mark Lancaster pledged £1-million ($1,246,500) to the relocation project.

CAHC and Mark Lancaster were in negotiations with the Cornwall Council to have the museum remain at its current premises until December 2023 for purpose of raising additional funds and better preparing the new site for the imminent relocation of the museum’s collection. Negotiations broke down, however, on 24 March 2023, and the Cornwall Council ordered the CAHC to vacate, despite the absence of immediate plans for the site.

Despite stating publicly that it would support the museum were the latter to present a credible and deliverable relocation proposal, the Cornwall Council insisted the CAHC immediately vacate its current premises.

The Cornwall Airport Newquay is the former site of RAF St Mawgan, the shuttered RAF base the CAHC commemorates. The NQY airport authority has agreed to allow the museum to temporarily store a number of its historic aircraft on a section of the RAF base’s old disused runway while they are prepared for transport or scrapping.

The Cornwall Council, for its own part, had scheduled a 13 April meeting to discuss options for storing the museum’s more vulnerable indoor aircraft and heritage exhibits, some of which require protection, while arrangements are made to return such to their RAF, Navy and private owners. Subject meeting appears, now, to have been unilaterally abandoned by the council without warning or reason.

CAHC Museum founder and director Richard Spencer-Breeze stated: “Clearing the site by the 11th March, over the Easter weekend is completely impossible. We only received notification that Mark Lancaster’s proposal for CAHC to trade until December had been refused ten days ago and we immediately started the process of clearing the museum from the site, but this deadline is ridiculous. We’ve fought for so long, but we can’t go on like this any longer. This Council seems committed to seeing this museum close forever.

“We found a new site after they turned down all of our previous proposals without even discussing them, we raised £1-million, we received the unequivocal support of every major education body in the County, we offered the once in a lifetime chance for Cornwall to have a unique, all-year, state-of-the-art aerospace attraction and education hub. All they had to do was let us stay where we are for another 8 to 12 months. But no, they won’t even let us relocate in realistic fashion, they would rather see this one-of-a-kind, award-winning business disappear. It’s utterly disgraceful."

The online petition to save the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre has attracted more than forty-thousand signatures and thousands of heartfelt messages of outrage and support. The CAHC has repeatedly and sincerely extended its thanks for the outpouring of support.

The CAHC implores pilots, aerospace workers, history buffs, lovers of aviation, and all decent folk to sign its petition

Please, however, DO NOT donate via Change.Org. The CAHC DOES NOT receive funds collected through the Change.Org website.

The CAHC is currently about the process of setting up its own campaign to fund the museum’s relocation, and will make information pertaining to its fund-raising effort available shortly.

FMI: https://cornwallaviationhc.co.uk, Petition Link

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