Charity Profile: Manx Aviation Preservation Society

In this series, we spotlight charities on the island. This time, journalist Siobhan Fletcher speaks to the Manx Aviation Preservation Society.

The Manx Aviation Preservation Society (Charity No. 827) has worked on the island for nearly 30 years.

I spoke to Ivor Ramsden MBE, director of the charity about what they do and why it matters.

Who are you / What are you doing?

We are the Manx Aviation Preservation Society and we run the Manx Aviation and Military Museum at Ronaldsway Airport.

It is important to stress that despite the name, we are not a war museum because that is not what we are; we really are a museum about people – we tell the stories of Manx who, whether they like it or not, were involved in the war.

We also tell the story of local airlines and airfields in peacetime, and that’s a subject that deserves a museum on its own.

There is too much to describe here, but the museum’s largest gallery covers the role of the island and its people in the First World War and it has received high praise from our visitors, many of whom have said it it was the best World War I exhibit they had seen. .

There is also a whole section on the Manx Regiment which was a British Army anti-aircraft unit during World War II, serving in England, North Africa, Crete, Italy and Northern Europe.

It became the most successful anti-aircraft unit of all the Allied armies in 1945.

On the civilian side, we have many Manx Airlines memorabilia, including our largest exhibit, a British Aerospace ATP passenger plane that we are still working on in conjunction with a group of Manx Airlines alumni.

One thing that really surprises people is that everything is free, although we accept donations.

It all started in 1994 when someone wrote to the local newspaper asking if anyone interested in the island’s aviation history wanted to meet.

A number of people gathered at the former Royal Air Forces Association club on Bucks Road and it was decided that their collections of civil and military aviation memorabilia would form the basis of a museum.

They also decided to erect memorials at places of aviation interest on the island.

The name of the society – The Manx Aviation Preservation Society – was decided at this point, but over time the original group was joined by people whose interests were in fields other than aviation, such as the Island’s Home Guard, Army and Royal Navy.

This was seen as a good thing as it broadened the reach of the organization which would make the museum appealing to a wider audience.

What has been your greatest achievement or your greatest pride since your training?

Without a doubt, our proudest moment was when the company opened the Manx Aviation and Military Museum on Remembrance Day 2000 after many months of hard work transforming an abandoned building at the airport.

At that time, we had no idea how successful the museum would become, but we should have known because from day one people were bringing us items to display.

They brought everything from a simple brass tunic button to tea chests full of military uniforms.

From the very beginning, we realized that we were becoming the guardians of a real treasure of the island’s history and that we had the great responsibility of maintaining everything in order to record it and preserve it for future generations.

We aim to achieve high professional standards in our displays and in curation despite our limited budget.

We are very pleased that many comments in our guestbook and reviews on websites refer to the friendliness and helpfulness of our staff and we believe this is one of the reasons for our great success.

Our visitor numbers increased every year until Covid hit, but they are already back to pre-pandemic levels and we are expecting a banner year.

For the past five years, we have been the island’s top rated tourist attraction on the Tripadvisor travel review site.

We are particularly pleased with this because we have achieved this as a completely independent voluntary organization at no cost to the taxpayer.

What is your biggest ambition/goal for the future?

The museum needs to be expanded!

Every square inch is full of interesting exhibits and our store is packed to the ceiling.

We have already had to expand three times to accommodate new objects; in fact, we’ve doubled the floor space but we still have an extensive collection of treasures in store, most of which are just as interesting as the ones on display.

The museum doesn’t look very attractive from the side of the road as all you can see is a black Nissen hut, but there’s a lot more hidden behind it and we’re sure a more attractive building will attract visitors. people.

We need additional exhibition space so people can see more items from the island’s past and, just as important, we need a conference room where we can give talks. lectures and show films to the many groups, including schools, who visit the museum.

How can people get involved?

Anyone over the age of 18 can join the society and they will be particularly welcome if they can devote a few hours to the staff of the museum – welcoming our visitors and answering their questions or a more physical involvement such as gardening and maintaining our exhibitions .

You don’t need to be an expert at all.

Our volunteers are for the most part, shall we say, overwhelmed even if some of them refuse to admit it and we really need young people to get involved if the future of the museum is to be assured.

It’s fun, you can learn a lot and you meet very interesting people.

Where can people find you and where can they donate?

The museum is on the main road between the airport and Castletown.

We are open every weekend of the year and also every day of the TT training week until the end of September.

Donations are always welcome and can be made to the museum by cash, check or electronically.

We can be reached by phone at 829294 or 454596.

We are on Facebook as The Manx Aviation and Military Museum (@mamm.iom) and our web address is www.maps.org.im

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