Vulcan is still main attraction
This year marks 40 years since aircraft enthusiasts realised their dream of establishing a museum to help preserve examples of the area’s aeronautical history.
Although specific events are not planned to commemorate the beginnings of Newark Air Museum, talks and exhibitions will be held to mark the arrival of its most famous attraction, a Vulcan bomber, which landed at the former air base 25 years ago yesterday.
The idea of an air museumarose in 1961 when members of the Royal Observer Corps at Claypole, and the Newark Squadron Air Training Corps, decided they wanted to own a Spitfire.
In 1963 the group locatedtheir first aircraft in woods near RAF Cranwell. The remains of a Westland Wallace biplane were unearthed and moved to Abbotts Boiler Works in Newark, in 1965.
Eventually it was sent to RAF Museum Hendon, where it is now on display.
On July 8, 1967, the first aircraft to be displayed at the Newark museum, a former RAF Cranwell trainer Percival Prentice, was flown into Newark Showground, with the approval of Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society.
On April 23, 1968, the Newark (Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire) Air Museum was formally incorporated as a limited company, and the museum was registered as a charity on September 12 that year.
The formal site was established at the showground, and work commenced towards the opening in 1973.
The museum’s secretary and a trustee, Mr Howard Heeley, said the late Mr Neville Franklin, who died in 2006, and the late Mr Charles Waterfall, who died in 2004, were credited as the original founders.
He said, when interviewed by the Advertiser in December 1967, they said that their desire was “to own a Spitfire, not to fly; not for any particular reason; just to have it.”
“It was the dream from which the museum was born,” Mr Heeley said.
He said the dream of owning the Spitfire had never been fulfilled but the museum had 69 aircraft and cockpits, making it one of the largest volunteer-managed collections in the UK.
The museum has two hangars, housing about 45 exhibits.
Although the museum is run by nine trustees, it employs five full-time staff.
Last year there were almost20,000 visitors. Mr Heeley said this was boosted by the cancellation ofWaddington Air Show, due to bad weather, when about 1,000 people visited the museum instead.
Mr Heeley said this aside, visitor numbers were still up 6% overall, largely down to an increase in school visits.
“The more people come, the more money we have to improve facilities and the attractions,” he said.
The museum’s Avro Vulcan B.2 XM594 is one of 20 remaining out of 139 manufactured.
It is the largest of seven aircraft flown into the museum over the years, using the former runways of RAF Winthorpe Airfield.
It was flown for the last time from RAF Waddington to the museum on February 7, 1983.
It is estimated that the aircraft had flown more than 1mmiles in its time.
The plane, which has a 33.83-metre wingspan, was the 58th Vulcan produced by A.V. Roe and Co Ltd of Woodford, Manchester. It was flown for the first time on May 29, 1963.
In July that year it joined the Blue Steel armed independent British Nuclear Deterrent Force, serving in the Vulcan Wings at RAF Scampton and RAF Waddington throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
The Vulcan is still the most popular exhibit at the museum and the cockpit is regularly opened to the public.
The museum will host a talk on flying the Vulcan on May 22 at the Holy Trinity Community Centre, Boundary Road, Newark.
The event starts at 8pm. Tickets are £5 from the museum shop.
More by this authorPeter Harris