For a Carlisle museum, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time. They were due to reopen for their season two weeks before lockdown rules came in.

Dougie Kerr, 64, from Carlisle, is the chairman of the Solway Aviation Museum at Carlisle Lake District Airport.

He said: “We will be staying closed now, and we will not be able to open until April next year.”

The museum has applied to the Arts Council for a grant to change the building, so that they can build another passageway. Then visitors will be able to continue in a one-way direction in two corridors. He said they will revert to a booking system if it is not successful.

Though it is very disappointing to the museum that they will not be able to open this year, Dougie said that they are fortunate that they do not have large overheads, as all the volunteers offer their time freely and Stobbarts, who own the airport, only charges the museum a peppercorn rent.

But the loss of revenue from the 8,000 to 10,000 visitors that they usually receive will impact on the money available to buy exhibits.

In February the museum acquired a Fairy Gannet aeroplane, which has links to the area as the plane was stored at Anthorn when it was first built, in 1959. The plane was earmarked for renovation, but now these plans are on hold.

They also had to cancel a planned VE day event, which would have seen war time re-enactments of people dressing as fighter pilots or army personnel and a variety of vehicles, including tanks.

Plans for a scheduled visit of a WWII Hawker Hurricane, due to arrive at Kirkbride airfield on September 9 - as Carlisle airport is closed at the moment - have also had to be shelved.

The museum site covers five acres and has 23 aircraft available at the museum.

Dougie said they have also just got a 1958 Bedford crew bus. It was owned by the RAF until 1971, then owned by scouts at Sheffield until last year, when it was bought at auction by the museum. He is pleased to get the bus as they already have a Vulcan Bomber at the museum and the bus would have transported the crews to the location of the Vulcan Bombers.

One of the oldest exhibits was built in the 30s by Mr Pennington, from Muncaster Castle. It is called the Flying Flea. Dougie said: “He flew it a few times and kept crashing it, so he sent it to Millom airfield, which is right beside Haverigg prison. A man called Ken Ellis got some money together to enable the prisoners to repair it. Then it came to us.”

There are 79 unpaid volunteers, with members living all over the country.

They travel from as far as Dundee, Fort William, Oxfordshire, Cramlington, Bolton and Morecambe to work at the museum for a time, then return home. 20 to 30 of the volunteers are on a regular rota and help with a variety of jobs including serving people in the shop, cutting grass, maintenance and decorating.

Dougie hopes that more young people, with an interest in everything aeronautical or engineering related might like to volunteer too.

If anyone would like to volunteer they should get in touch via the Solway Aviation Museum Facebook page.