Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Evans has pledged her support to Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre in its ambitious plans for expansion.
The Centre has seen its visitor numbers soar by almost 300 per cent in recent years, after completing a number of ambitious projects to increase their footfall.
Currently ranked as second in ‘Things To Do In Angus’ on Trip Advisor, the centre’s volunteers are keen to expand and take ownership of some of the additional units held by Angus Council and have turned to the MSP for help.
She said: “I was absolutely blown away by the Heritage Centre.
“It’s one of the hidden gems of Angus and I think everyone who lives in the area should come down and spend a day there.
“It holds worldwide appeal and has some incredibly knowledgeable in the background ensuring that this historic treasure not only survives but it thrives.
“I’m not surprised by its’ status on TripAdvisor. To the untrained eye it’s just part of a business centre but it is a significant heritage site and we want as many people as possible to explore it.
“There are so many planes, so many stories to tell and it gives you a real sense of how involved Montrose was in World War 1 and World War 2.
“They have asked for my help and I’m more than happy to do all I can to support them.
“They have big ambitions for the future and I want this fantastic attraction to be shown off to as many people as possible.”
The upsurge in visitor numbers came off the back of the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.
A 20-month, six-man, project to build a replica BE2A Aircraft - in recognition of former Montrose-based Lt. Harvey-Kelly becoming the first RFC pilot to land in France at the start of World War 1 – was completed in 2014.
The £105,000 model takes pride of place in the centre as one of its star attractions.
Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre chairman Alan Doe added: “We are thrilled with the way the Air Station is progressing.
“A few years ago we were getting 2500 to 3000 annual visitors but now we are comfortably over 7000.
“We are the number two tourist attraction in Angus on Trip Advisor, second only to Glamis Castle. I don’t think we will ever defeat them but we are number one in Montrose.
“Children are allowed in for Free and we try to make it as interactive and fun as possible for them.
“We want to appeal to aircraft enthusiasts but also people who don’t know much about them and we are always thinking up new ways to get more people to come and visit us.
“If you don’t expand, you stay still and eventually start to go backwards. We have a lot of ideas of how we can improve but, as always, finance is our enemy.
“We have done very well out of Heritage Lottery Funding since 2004 and have been hugely supported by Angus Council but we still need support to improve our site and hope that Mairi Evans MSP can help us.”