Airport museum to mark rich history

Work has begun on transforming Hanger 42 at Blackpool Airport into a Fylde Coast Museum of Aviation and Aircraft Manufacturing. 'The Lytham St Annes Spitfire Display Team is behind the scheme.

Work has begun on transforming Hanger 42 at Blackpool Airport into a Fylde Coast Museum of Aviation and Aircraft Manufacturing. 'The Lytham St Annes Spitfire Display Team is behind the scheme.

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Work has begun to transform a hangar at Blackpool Airport into a museum to celebrate the Fylde coast’s rich aviation history.

The Lytham St Annes Spitfire Display Team (LSASDT) has secured Hangar 42, off Squires Gate Lane, for ambitious plans to open a Fylde Coast Museum of Aviation and Aircraft Manufacturing.

The idea was announced in February but the team already hopes to move into the hangar by mid to late-June.

John Coombes, of the LSASDT, said: “The airport has been having a lot of changes which worked in our favour.

“Blackpool Airport and Balfour Beatty have been really helpful.

“We are hoping to move from our current premises – a private site in between Warton and Wrea Green – to the hangar in mid to late-June to then open to the public later on in the summer or autumn.

“Lots of schools and associations like the Rotary want to see our work but we can’t accommodate them on our current site. That’s why we hope the hangar will be a popular venue.

“Our plan is to have the hangar how it worked and operated in the Second World War, so it’d be like walking back in time.

“We’ll have educational talks so school groups can come in and learn about aviation history.”

The team hopes to use the museum to recognise the area’s contribution to aviation, which includes bases such as RAF Squires Gate, RAF Lytham, RAF Freckleton, the Stanley Park Aerodrome and the Warton Aerodrome – once operated by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF).

The planned museum will include displays, skills sessions about how planes were built and replica aircraft such as Spitfires and a Hawker 
Hurricane.

But the team needs to raise £100,000 to make improvements to the hangar and to fund some larger exhibits – including the dream of bringing a 176ft Vickers Wellington bomber, originally built at Stanley Park Aerodrome, back to the resort.

Mr Coombes added: “We’d like to get a Wellington bomber to return to Squires Gate.

“There are very few around and it would be nice to bring one home.

“The works for the museum are under way and Hangar 42 at Blackpool Airport will soon become our new home, but there is much to do.

“Work is required on the hangar’s roof, lighting, access gate and pathway works.

“We need to raise just over £100,000.

“We’ll have some open days and we are going to launch the fund-raising drive with a 1940s hangar dance.

“We will hopefully encourage local trades and merchants to help along the way.”

Readers can donate online by visiting www.gofundme.com and searching for the Fylde Coast Museum of Aviation, or visit the Lytham St Annes Spitfire Team Facebook page.