A spitfire will soon be seen soaring high in the skies above Southampton again… well, 40m high, at least. As a reminder that the iconic, war-winning plane was designed by R.J. Mitchell in Woolston, a suburb of the city, and a tribute to those who flew, built and maintained the aircraft, a graceful monument has been approved for display at Mayflower Park.
The replica Spitfire will in fact be one-and-a-half times the size of the real plane, with a wingspan of 16m, and will stand on a stainless steel mast representative of a vapour trail. At its base will be a viewing platform shaped like an RAF roundel, with a pool of remembrance, and a map showing the 28 Southampton workshops and garages where Spitfire aircraft were built after the main factory was bombed.The design was conceived back in 2010 after Nick Hancock beat off 300 other hopefuls to scoop the chance to see his monument built, not to mention the opportunity to go up in a real Spitfire.
The city council’s planning department voted on Tuesday this week to allow the installation to go ahead. The project will cost £3.5 million to action, since an initial £100,000 raised has already been spent on researching the possibility of building it at Trafalgar Dock (this plan failed as it was instead decided to place a ferry terminal there as part of a larger development project). A new charity has been formed to lead the fund-raising in cooperation with the Solent Sky Museum, National Spitfire Project, and if all goes well they’re hoping that the spectacular statue will be on display within two-and-a-half years.
Do you have a WW2 pilot in the family, or have you ever wondered if any of your ancestors were in the Forces during the war? If so, find out more by visiting Forces War Records, a site that specialises in transcribing war records into digital data that can be easily searched and cross referenced: www.forces-war-records.co.uk.