Whether you live in Cornwall or enjoy holidays in the county, you may well have enjoyed a day out at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre (CAHC). The Newquay-based centre is a hub for all things aerospace and provides a fun day out checking out the aircraft, simulators and exhibits, with even the chance to get inside many of the cockpits.
However, Cornwall now stands to lose this unique aircraft museum as the lease will be terminated on Friday March 31, 2023. Without a suitable site to which it can relocate, the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre will be forced to close forever.
Cornwall Live had a closer look to find out what CAHC is, the work done there, why it faces closure, and what’s being done to save it.
What is Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre?
Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre opened its doors in 2015 and since then the owners, staff and volunteers have worked night and day to create something truly unique for Cornwall. The result is an award-winning, top-rated visitor destination and major aerospace/STEM education centre.
Found at Cornwall Airport, near to the new Spaceport project, CAHC is run by local people, is privately funded, pays commercial rents to Cornwall Council and is becoming nationally recognised as an aerospace site of excellence.
The interactive aerospace visitor centre and education hub is the only one of its kind in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, and has welcomed nearly 100,000 visitors over the last seven years.
But it’s not just tourists who enjoy the centre. CAHC provides huge resources, facilities and opportunities for STEM/aerospace education bodies of all kinds. Primary and secondary schools visit regularly, local college aerospace-engineering and travel industry students train with CAHC aircraft ranging from jet-trainers to in-flight refuelling tankers. Plus, Tourism and Leisure cabin-crew courses are conducted on board real airliners.
CAHC works closely with the new Spaceport Cornwall facility as well as the new Truro and Penwith College Cornwall Space and Aerospace Technology Training organization (CSATT). In fact, in July 2022, CAHC hosted the initial CSATT ‘Space Camp’ event in with 60 students based in the fully equipped classroom created inside the BAC1-11 jet-airliner.
Richard Spencer-Breeze, CAHC’s co-founder, director and general manager spoke passionately about the centre: “CAHC is unique, not just in Cornwall, but in the United Kingdom. We are the most interactive aerospace destination for heritage and learning anywhere in Great Britain. This is special for visitors and students, for the people involved in it but, more importantly, for Cornwall.”
Why does it face closure?
If a new premises isn’t found to which CAHC can relocate by Friday March 31, 2023, Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre will have to close its doors forever – a deadline given by Cornwall Council, CAHC’s current landlord.
Unless quick and serious action is taken, Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre will be no more within six months.
What’s more, with aircraft up to 150ft long and weighing 80 tons, 20+ airframes of all sizes and thousands of exhibits to move, suitable alternative new locations are few and would need to be at, or adjacent to, Cornwall Airport.
Tourists and locals will no longer be able to visit this amenity, but the closure’s impact will stretch much further: Those who work at CAHC will find themselves unemployed; Over 70,000 of Cornwall’s school children will miss the opportunity to visit the centre; cadets, scouting, and guide groups will no longer have a hub to visit and develop their skill.
And to top it off, the only aviation/aerospace dedicated museum in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset will be lost. Richard spoke about the situation with a great deal of sadness: “If CAHC closes down the only aviation and aerospace museum in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset will be lost.
“The opportunity for Cornwall to have a hub for aerospace education next to its new Spaceport will be lost. More than 60 veterans and retired volunteers will lose a vital part of their lives. And many of our rare, valuable historic aircraft will have to be destroyed for scrap.”
However, amongst the low spirits, Richard still stays devoted to CAHC. When asked about his favourite aspect of the work done at the centre, he did not hesitate to sing its praises: “That’s easy. It is seeing so many young people being simply amazed at what they can do at our centre and knowing that some of them will now go on to seek a career in aviation. That is what this is all about.”
How can I help save Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre?
While CAHC faces many problems now and in the near future, there is something you can do to show your support. To get the word out about its possible closure and to highlight just how many people will miss the centre, CAHC have created a petition.
Currently, it has over 14,000 signatures and more than 1,000 comments, one of which reads: “This is insanity. Our 12 year old boy has been visiting since he was 5. We visit this part of Cornwall every year and it is activities like this that keep us coming back, spending our hard earned £ in the local economy year after year! We *always* buy something from the CAHC shop to support the project and this year our son proudly wore his CAHC cap to the International Air Tattoo. Don’t take this away from him!”
Each year, the four main aerospace museums in the UK bring in 2.5 million visitors each year. This is Cornwall’s opportunity to join them and earn itself a portion of that audience.
If you think CAHC is worth saving, then show your support by signing the petition, here.
Find out more about Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre by visiting the website, here. Or do your bit to keep the site open by signing the petition, here. Plus, enjoy a day out by heading to the centre, found at: HAS 3, Aerohub 2, Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4GP
This content was originally published here.