Solway Aviation Museum

The Solway Aviation Museum is based at Carlisle Airport, just a few miles from the city of Carlisle on the A69.

Situated in some old airport sheds, this little gem of a museum is one to be placed on the things to do list.

Some of the many aircraft at the Solway Aviation Museum

Some of the many aircraft at the Solway Aviation Museum

Children and adults will find something of interest, even on a soggy day.

Owned and maintained by volunteers from the Solway Aviation Society, the museum has many displays including a room dedicated to the Blue Streak rocket programme, the Martin Baker (ejector seat manufacturer) story and a room filled with old aircraft engines.

Formed in 1961 by members of the Royal Observer Corps, the Society was originally known as the Solway Group of Aviation Enthusiasts.

The Naafi, Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, cafe provides hot and cold refreshments and an on site gift shop has everything from key rings to model aircraft.

The museum’s five main display rooms have a strong local flavour and provide a fascinating insight into local aviation history;

Blue Streak Exhibit

Discover Britain’s part in the Space Race and the story behind the testing of the ill fated Blue Streak rocket programme.

Blue Streak motor and fittings

Blue Streak motor and fittings

The superb display includes rocket engines and a model of the rocket launch facility at RAF Spadeadam on the windswept Gilsland fells not far from the airport. The display chronicles this little known episode in Britain’s recent history.

An interactive touchscreen allows visitors to explore the story of the Bluestreak project with video and pictures from the time.

The Engine Hall houses a superb collection of aero engines that show how aircraft power plants have developed over the years.

The Avionics room highlights the role of the navigator and the development of electronic guidance equipment.

Charting the wartime past of the area

Charting the wartime past of the area

Enter the museum’s Crosby rooms and step back to the 40’s through an air raid shelter, taking the visitor on a journey though the history of local wartime RAF Airfields.

Carlisle Aiport
In the Carlisle Airport room you have the chance to see a realistic mock up of the airports WWII control tower as well as hear a live feed from the tower.

The museum currently has 11 aircraft on display including the XJ823 Vulcan bomber and part of the tour includes a visit to the cockpit of  this famous war bird.

Vulcan Bomber

Arriving at Carlisle during 1983 Vulcan bomber XJ823 is the star attraction at the Solway Aviation Museum.

Avro Vulcan XJ823

Avro Vulcan XJ823

It flew into the airport on the 24 January 1983 after being purchased from the RAF.

Only 20 complete Avro Vulcan airframes exist and 15 of these are in the UK.

XJ823 was delivered to the RAF in April 1961 and had Olympus 201 engines.

This Vulcan was a standby aircraft in the Falklands Conflict.

Further information

The museum facilities include :-
  • Hot & Cold Refreshments
  • Gift Shop
  • Disabled Parking
  • A Wheelchair & an Electric shopping buggy are available.

The Museum is open every weekend from April until the last weekend in October on a Saturday, Sunday and on official English Bank Holidays.  A charge is made for entrance.

The Museum is also available for private visits of parties of 15 or more persons. Visits are possible on any day of the week, with or without refreshments – please enquire by email at least one month in advance with the Bookings Director;

Schools history

School visits are available with a tailored series of activities aimed at Primary Schools KS2 World War II History Unit. All materials are provided – please enquire by email at least one month in advance with the Bookings Director (

Badges and awards

Beavers and Cub Scouts Air badge activity materials are available to enable the participants to qualify after their visit at the Museum. Minimum number of 15 participants. Please enquire at least one month in advance with the Bookings Director (

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