Yorkshire Air Museum Reports a Bumper Year in 2023

The Museum expects further growth in 2024.

A beautiful aerial photo of the Yorkshire Air Museum. Notice the WWII era Quonset huts.

The Yorkshire Air Museum is preparing itself for another great year, after figures show it welcomed a record number of visitors in 2023. The museum at Elvington near York, United Kingdom saw around 72,000 people come through its gates last year, a rise of 12,000 on the previous twelve months. This comes at a time when many visitor attractions are struggling to cope with the lingering after-effects of Covid, as well as the cost-of-living crisis.

The Museum’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Jerry Ibbotson said, “We had just over 60,000 visitors in 2022, which was itself a really great way to come back after Covid. But in 2023 that figure has jumped to 72,000 people, which broke not only the levels of recent years but also smashed the targets we’d set ourselves.”

During the Covid lockdown in 2020, the Yorkshire Air Museum lost 90% of its income and its survival hung in the balance, until it was awarded emergency funding from the National Heritage Lottery Funding, and an Arts Council Recovery Grant. It’s now back with a bang.

In 2023 it staged a season-long exhibition on the Cold War – ‘Minutes to Midnight’ – which saw a freshly repainted RAF Buccaneer jet as its centrepiece. The Museum also open its first permanent children’s playground, adding to its appeal for family groups, and moved its ticket hall and shop into one combined space. It also took delivery of a new aircraft, a Sepecat Jaguar jet kindly donated by the RAF.

Jerry Ibbotson said, “There was also a World War Two weekend, ‘We’ll Meet Again’, staged over the Coronation weekend that drew in large crowds to relive the spirit of the 1940s. The Museum then held a ‘Cold War Car Show’ in the summer, where vehicles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s were displayed alongside aircraft from that era. In October we hosted our first Thunder Day since 2019, with aircraft firing up their engine,. This drew in nearly 1000 visitors, with numbers only limited by parking space! It shows how popular the Museum is with all our audiences, from hardcore aviation enthusiasts to families looking for a great day out.”

The Yorkshire Air Museum says that 2024 looks like being a busy year, with a diary of events planned, including another Thunder Day and We’ll Meet Again weekend.

“We’re also going to see the arrival of the Avro Shackleton from Coventry Airport. This is being dismantled and will come to us in pieces and take several months to reassemble. It will be a great addition to our collection,” Jerry added.

“With the great results from last year, the bar is set very high for 2024 but we’re all working hard to do even greater things over the next twelve months.”

The Museum’s Chair of Trustees, Rachel Semlyen MBE paid tribute to the Museum team.

“Looking ahead, there’s much more to come, but nothing could have been achieved without the commitment, passion and hard work of all our staff and volunteers. I want to wish all our supporters a very happy and successful new year and to thank you so much for your interest, encouragement and enthusiasm for what we do at the museum to commemorate service, celebrate innovation and inspire present and future generations,” Semlyen said.

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