The Helicopter Museum at Weston-super-Mare has broken ground on a new single-storey extension to its main building, to replace the previous temporary Pratten Building visitor services facility that had been in use since the museum opened to the public some 30 years ago.
This temporary building had previously been in use by Westland Helicopters for apprentice training at Winterstoke Road and was refurbished by museum volunteers for its new role, but in more recent years had deteriorated to a point where it was unsafe and uneconomic to repair, so was demolished earlier this year.
The new building will eventually house a new reception, cafe, shop and conference/education areas together with a showpiece introduction to the museum collection built around the world’s oldest surviving helicopter, the Hafner R2, which dates back to 1931.
Initially the Museum Trustees have agreed funding to erect the basic building, using the museum’s own reserves, but are seeking sponsorship and volunteers to help with the fit-out of the new facility, which requires internal stud walling, and the installation of power, plumbing and other services and equipment.
General Manager Lee Mills says: “While the museum has been able to apply for grant aid towards the exhibition and education aspects of the project, regrettably efforts to obtain grants for the more practical elements, required to ensure sustainability, have so far been unsuccessful. As a result, we need to take a DIY approach to these elements and complete them as and when we can. However our target is to finish the works by the end of 2019 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the official opening of the museum.”
The museum, which was recently awarded it’s 5th annual Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor and rates as the world’s largest rotary-wing aircraft collection, has always been volunteer-led as a registered charity and welcomes new volunteers who can contribute to its success. Those who can offer sponsorship and support with this latest project can contact Lee Mills: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01934 635227.