City's aviation museum says visitor boost behind new investment
The City of Norwich Aviation Museum says a boost in visitor numbers is behind plans to invest more than £30,000 in its facilities.
The museum said it had seen an increase in visitors following the completion of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) last year.
As a result, it has now lodged plans to demolish and rebuild its tearoom to include a larger educational space for groups of visitors.
The new single floor building will feature a kitchenette, a new disabled toilet and a patio designed to look like the end of a runway.
Museum chairman Colin Kerrison said: “Because our visitor numbers are going up we need a place where groups can come in and feel comfortable.
“But is also about moving the museum forward. We spent a long time not doing anything with it, but now we want to make it a really good tourist attraction.”
For years the museum was hidden away down a track in Horsham St Faith, near Norwich Airport, with only a few signs informing drivers where to go.
But following the completion of the NDR - now known as Broadland Northway - the museum’s aircraft can be clearly seen from the dual carriageway.
“Certainly our visitor numbers have increased over the last year since the road opened,” Mr Kerrison said.
“One of the things we are finding is that a lot of local people and young families are saying ‘we did not know this was here’.
“We’ve had a brown sign for 30 years [showing where we are] but clearly it has not been that effective.”
He said the proposed new building will cost between £25,000 to £30,000, but added internal work could increase that figure.
Should Broadland District Council approve the application, Mr Kerrison said he hoped to have the new multi-use room built by spring this year.
The museum features 19 full-size aircraft including an Avro Vulcan, a Lightning and a SEPECAT Jaguar.
It started out as an aviation enthusiasts group for members of the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company back in 1977. The membership was later opened up to non-employees and a temporary site was secured on the 17/35 runway at Norwich Airport.
It moved to its current site in 1985.