Kent

Spitfire Museum in Manston future secure after freehold gift

John Knott, volunteer, Ken Wills, chairman of the Spitfire Museum Trust and Gerry Abrahams, volunteer, in front of the museum’s Spitfire Image copyright Spitfire Museum Trust
Image caption Ken Wills, centre, with volunteers John Knott, left and Gerry Abrahams, are pictured in front of the museum's Spitfire

The future of the Spitfire Museum is secure after the site's new owners gifted its freehold to the attraction.

The museum is at the historic RAF airfield at the former Manston Airport, which closed in May.

It only had 15 years left on its lease, which the Spitfire Museum Trust said was an obstacle to applying for essential funds.

Businessmen Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave bought the former airport's site three weeks ago.

Manston Airport was bought for £1 by Ann Gloag, co-founder of the Stagecoach Group, last October, but was closed five months later with the loss of 150 jobs.

'So impressed'

The museum, which houses a Spitfire Mk XVI and a Hurricane IIc, attracts more than 50,000 visitors a year.

Spitfire Museum Trust chairman Ken Wills said: "This gift of the land is exciting news; it's preferential to extending the lease and puts the trust in a much more secure position by owning the freehold of the building and land.

"We've been so impressed that this has all happened so quickly after they purchased the site."

Museum manager Matthijs Demedts said it would now be able to develop plans to expand its education centre and memorial garden.

Mr Cartner and Mr Musgrave, part of the consortium behind Discovery Park, Sandwich, bought a majority stake in the former airport's site for an undisclosed fee last month.

They plan a 20-year £1bn redevelopment to create more than 4,000 jobs.

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