A POPULAR museum in York is celebrating after visitor numbers have bounced back to pre-Covid numbers.

During lockdown in 2020 there were serious concerns for the Yorkshire Air Museum’s future, until it was able to obtain an emergency grant from the Government to keep it afloat.

Across York, hotels, attractions and other tourism businesses continue to struggle to return to pre-Covid levels of operation, with visitor numbers down in many areas – according to tourism body Visit York. But now the Yorkshire Air Museum, formerly RAF Elvington, is bucking that trend.

Communications manager at the museum, Jerry Ibbotson, said: “2019 was our last ‘normal’ year of operations, with over 57,000 visitors coming through our gates. We’ve now passed that figure, with nearly 60,000 people coming through our gates this year.

York Press: Visitors at the Yorkshire Air Museum during an exhibition earlier in the yearVisitors at the Yorkshire Air Museum during an exhibition earlier in the year (Image: UGC)

"The whole team here have worked really hard to get us back on our feet and we’re immensely proud of what we offer our visitors, particularly as we’ve come out of a pandemic straight into a cost-of-living crisis.”

During the pandemic, the museum received £134,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Emergency Fund and £312,531 from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund via the DCMS received in two tranches, six months apart.

The museum team said they are determined to keep their foot on the gas and keep visitor numbers high.

“We have a range of events planned for next year and are hard at work fundraising for the Save Our Tower appeal,” said Mr Ibbotson.

“We’re confident that 2023 will be an even better year for us," he added.

The tower at the Yorkshire Air Museum – formerly RAF Elvington – has been described as the 'the eyes and ears' of wartime bombing operations against Nazi Germany - and is one of the last of its kind still standing.

But the years have taken their toll. The tower's windows are cracked and the external rendering needs replacing.

The tower is at the centre of the museum, which is also the Allied Air Force Memorial. It was saved from dereliction 40 years ago, but the air museum says it needs further restoration to preserve it for the future.

The museum is looking to raise £100,000 towards the cost of the work, which will be carried out by specialist builders and engineers at a total cost of about £200,000.

York Press: The tower located at the Yorkshire Air MuseumThe tower located at the Yorkshire Air Museum (Image: UGC)

Chair of Trustees and founder of the museum, Rachel Semlyen, said: “In the 1980s we rescued the tower and the site to create a museum and memorial.

"During lockdown we had a survey of the tower and it was found to be leaking badly."

To support the fundraising appeal, visit the Yorkshire Air Museum website.