Future of West Walton aviation museum up in air after sale
The future of a West Norfolk museum is up in the air after ownership of its site changed hands earlier this summer.
Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum based in West Walton is home to thousands of aviation relics including four complete aircraft as well as well as remnants recovered from World War Two crash sites across the area.
But it is facing uncertain times, with just two years left to run on its lease, the museum could be forced to relocate or even close.
Last year the museum launched an urgent appeal to raise at least £50,000 to purchase its site, with negotiations with the then owner under-way.
However, the museum learned in July this year the ownership of the site, which is located on the Bambers Leisure site off Old Lynn Road, had changed hands and was now owned by a locally-based developer.
Museum secretary Steve Barfoot said: "We were shocked to find out the site had been sold, especially when we were negotiating to buy the land the museum sits on.
"We have had one unsigned letter pushed through the museum door from the new owner to say they have taken over the site, but other than that we have had no contact. We have tried to contact him to talk about the museum's future, but so far we have been unsuccessful.
"It really is worrying times, we have just over two years to run on our lease, we have been here for 30 years, and have thousands of exhibits including four complete aircraft. It is going to be a mammoth task if we are going to have to pack it all up and either close or relocate, so we really need to start talking about the future.
"One thing is certain we shall not be giving up without a fight. We have seen a big increase in visitors this summer, and we now have a younger, very energetic team of volunteers who are media savvy and keen to promote the museum and what it has to offer.
"Thanks to the fundraising effort we now have a good war chest to help us either stay here and buy this site, or help us move. The problem would be finding another suitable site that we can actually afford.
"We need about two thirds of an acre to accommodate everything, and ideally a building we can use, so we know it is going to be hard to find somewhere else for the museum. But we would be happy to hear from any landowners who would be willing to let us have some land at a peppercorn rent, if there is someone out there that can help.
"Having said that what we ideally want to do is stay where we are and continue to grow the museum. We know we can expect to pay more in rent if our lease is renewed - that would be totally acceptable, just as long as it is something we can afford.
"All we want is some assurances from our new landlord that we can stay, and if we can't then we at least have a couple of years to find a new home."
The Lynn News has made attempts to locate the site's new owner but has so far failed to contact him, but we would be happy to hear from him.