York aircraft factory poised for take-off as draw for visitors

A FORMER aircraft factory in York could fly visitors back to the 1930s under plans to transform it into an attraction celebrating the city’s aviation history.

Proposals backed by the Yorkshire Air Museum have been unveiled by developer Northminster, which is bidding to buy the derelict former Airspeed building in Piccadilly in the city centre.

Yorkshire Air Museum director Ian Reed said it would be a “completely different concept” to its Elvington site.

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At its heart would be the story of the factory, which produced some of the most advanced aircraft around in the 1930s, and the people who made it a success.

Airspeed was founded by aviation engineer Nevile Shute Norway in 1931, with the support of associates including barnstorming test pilot Alan Cobham, aristocratic banker Lord Grimthorpe and pioneering pilot Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia.

“Because of the site’s historic connection with York’s only aircraft factory and its significant historic figures, it will inevitably include the story of the 1930s factory and will incorporate an aircraft of that period, along with a lot more,” said Mr Reed.

“It is planned to be an all-inclusive attraction appealing to both sexes and all ages and 
dealing with design, invention, speed, fashion, film – a reflection of the post Great Depression 
and First world War period 
which was filled with so much 
energy, invention and achievement.

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“We want to bring that exciting entrepreneurial spirit alive once again to this very special place in the heart of our city.”

It would be the first major new museum in the city for 25 years, with expected visitor numbers rivalling the National Railway Museum and Jorvik Viking Centre, according to the proposals.

The factory, which was built in 1921 as a depot for York Corporation’s bus and trolleybus depot, later housed Reynard’s Garage and laser tag game business Mega-