Since opening in late 2017, Aerospace Bristol has quickly established itself as one of the best days out in Bristol.
The museum gives visitors the chance to explore our fascinating local heritage, as they embark upon a flight through history that spans more than one hundred years of Bristol's remarkable aerospace achievements.
The star attraction is Concorde Alpha Foxtrot, the last Concorde ever to fly. Designed and built in Bristol, every British Concorde made its maiden flight from Filton Airfield and Alpha Foxtrot touched down at Filton for the final time in November 2003. Today, visitors to Aerospace Bristol can step aboard Concorde and learn more about the world's only successful supersonic passenger jet.
As the museum prepares to re-open, we spoke to Director Lloyd Burnell about adapting to the pandemic, how visitors will be kept safe, and what they can look forward to when they return.
Lloyd, the last few months must have been hard. What has helped you get through this period?
The last few months have been incredibly challenging. Aerospace Bristol is run by a charity and is still a museum in its infancy. We’d been open just two and a half years when we were forced to close due to coronavirus. That sudden loss of vital visitor and event income has put the future of the museum and the preservation of Concorde and our collection in real jeopardy.
Fortunately, we have had great support, including from South Gloucestershire Council and some incredible supporters across the local community who have donated as part of our ‘Return to Flight' Appeal. Individual ‘Return to Flight’ supporters can choose from a range of unique rewards and be listed on a special online donor wall, in recognition of their kindness and generosity at this difficult time.
I'm pleased to say that we are now in a position to reopen very soon, but we still desperately need ongoing support from people who care about Bristol's aerospace heritage. It will be a long time before visitor numbers and event bookings return to normal, so kind donations from our supporters really are more vital than ever to ensure that Aerospace Bristol can survive and continue to inspire the next generation of engineers.
When will Aerospace Bristol reopen?
Aerospace Bristol will reopen its doors to visitors from Saturday 1st August, with tickets available to book now at aerospacebristol.org.
The museum will open from 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets must be booked in advance and numbers are strictly limited to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
Presumably there will be extra precautions in place – what do visitors need to know?
The health and safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff is, of course, our highest priority.
I'm pleased to say that Aerospace Bristol has received ‘Good to go’ certification from Visit Britain. The 'We’re Good To Go’ certification is an industry standard mark that confirms that the museum adheres to Government and public health guidance.
New safety measures include a one-way route around the museum, with visitors encouraged to keep on the ‘flight path’ as they follow the exhibition story.
Due to its confined nature, visitors will also be asked to take extra precautions if they wish to go on board Concorde as part of their visit. These precautions include wearing a face mask while on-board and using hand sanitiser both prior to boarding and upon exiting the aeroplane.
What are you most looking forward to as visitors begin to return?
We can’t wait to welcome visitors back to Aerospace Bristol. The museum is always so popular in the summer, with children enjoying our time-travel trail, the outdoor play area, the interactive exhibits and, of course, all the amazing aeroplanes, helicopters and space technology on display.
We’re fortunate that the museum is situated in large, spacious aircraft hangars. There’s lots of space between the exhibits and an easy-to-follow one-way route, which will allow people to enjoy a family day out while maintaining safe social distancing.
It will be fantastic to see visitors enjoying the museum once again and we're pleased to be able to offer families the chance to enjoy a fun day out together after so long apart or in lockdown.
The opening of Aerospace Bristol was one of the first-steps in the transformation of North Bristol. What are you most excited about the future?
In many ways the transformation of North Bristol today reflects how it evolved in the heyday of the former airfield.
Now, as then, there is a community of people with an ambitious vision for the future of the area, and who are working hard to make that vision a reality. There’s already lots to do as a visitor. As well as Aerospace Bristol, The Mall Cribbs Causeway, Bristol Zoo’s Wild Place Project and The Wave are all on our doorstep. And with the YTL Arena Complex at Brabazon due to open in late 2023, North Bristol is set to become one of the most exciting destinations for a day out in the South West.
Finally, what are your favourite parts of the museum? Are there any hidden gems that visitors should look out for?
My favourite aspect of the exhibition is its focus on ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. Bristol has shaped the global aerospace industry we see today and an extraordinary range of engineering innovations have come out of the Bristol family of companies. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the local people who made these achievements happen.
Visitors will also be able to see work progressing on our new Conservation-in-Action workshop. Once open, the new workshop will allow visitors to see our dedicated team of volunteers working on conserving and restoring Bristol aircraft. It's going to be an exciting new addition to the museum.
Aerospace Bristol is open 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday, from 1st August. Discounted family tickets are available, as well as reduced price tickets for seniors and students. Aerospace Bristol tickets include free return visits for 12 months from the date they are first used. For more information and to book, please visit aerospacebristol.org.