Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre Faces Immediate Eviction

English Electric Lightning F.53 – ZF580 / XR768 faces the axe, along with the rest of the historic airframes and artifacts at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre in the next week due to a draconian, out of the blue eviction notice from the local Cornwall County Council. (via CAHC)
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by Charlotte Bailey

The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre (CAHC) – based in South-West England – has just received a “devastating blow to its exciting plans to relocate to a new site,” having been given immediate notice to vacate its extensive collection of 20+ aircraft and several thousand artifacts within seven days. An ultimatum as unwelcome as it is unworkable, this directive could see many historic airframes unceremoniously scrapped within the coming weeks.

Located at Newquay Cornwall Airport, next to RAF St Mawgan, the CAHC is the county’s only aviation heritage centre. It was formed following the closure of another ambitious project to bring an aviation museum to the area and the CAHC first opened its doors to visitors in 2015. Staffed by “dedicated and passionate volunteers” who have become “the heart and soul of the centre,” the museum has welcomed many tens of thousands of visitors in the seven years it has been open.

A campaign to save the CAHS is nearing its milestone of 50,000 signatures. Click the above image to sign on too! (image via CAHC)

However, when the museum shut its doors in October 2022 for its annual Winter closure period, uncertainty abounded as to whether the centre would ever open to the public again. With the council confirming they would not renew the lease beyond March 2023 – claiming they had “repeatedly made the offer to receive and assess a credible and robust case for why the public sector should fund the relocation of CAHC” – the future of the site seemed to hang in the balance.

A welcome announcement in December seemed to have secured the site’s future; attracting £1m of funding alongside securing an alternative location adjacent to the current site. This would – in the words of CAHC and the Cornwall Aerospace Education Trust – create “a modern, interactive aerospace visitor centre and multi-functional educational facility”. They also confirmed that a new location would “enable all of the … aircraft, exhibits and facilities to be transferred intact.”

Two Panavia Tornadoes are a highlight of the CAHC’s collection. (image via CAHC)

This was great news for the multitude of historic aircraft in the care of the CAHC, including two Panavia Tornados, a BAE Hawk, a BAE Harrier, a Hawker Hunter, a Vickers Varsity, a de Havilland Vampire, a VC-10 and the iconic English Electric Lightning that features prominently on the organisation’s logo. “After so many months of facing what seemed like the sad end of our dream, this opportunity is the best thing that could have happened,” noted the museum’s directors at the time.

Yet despite negotiations to remain at the current premises until at least December 2023 – raising funds and preparing the new site for the relocation – Cornwall Council abruptly refused this request on April 4th, formally advising CAHC that it must clear the entire site within seven days and announcing that any remaining items will be subject to disposal by the Council’s agent. Although a meeting had provisionally been set for April 13th to discuss storage options for the more vulnerable aircraft, CAHG believes “this meeting now appears to have been unilaterally abandoned, without any advice.”

Museum director and founder Richard Spencer-Breeze likened the seemingly unsubstantiated eviction decision as being “hung, drawn and quartered by Cornwall Council,” adding that “clearing the site over the Easter weekend is completely impossible.”

“We found a new site after they turned down all of our previous proposals without even discsussing them, we raised £1 million, we received the unequivocal support of every major education body in the County,” he explained; adding that “This Council seems committed to seeing this museum close forever.”

An online petition to save the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre has already amassed over 43,000 signatures, and you can show your support by clicking here.



  1. Who’s the new (reported elsewhere) tenant? Sad news, turned up to look at the museum at the wrong time last year… In my dreams there’d be enough air/space activity going on at Newquay for someone to accommodate the museum as ‘outreach/education’. Here’s hoping the new tenant is a step in the right direction.

  2. Absurd. How can such a decision be justified? Criminal destruction of our aviation heritage. Shameful action.

  3. Councillors and local Government officers with no business acumen or common sense. Typical, sadly.

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