Work is now under way to start the process of moving Stoke-on-Trent’s famous Spitfire to its stunning new multi-million-pound home, at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley.
Plans for a £6-million investment were unveiled last year, and will result in a glassed fronted gallery being added to the city centre’s Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, so that the iconic plane – based on Reginald Mitchell’s famous design – can become more viewable to the public, and inspire generations to come.
The gallery within the Museum which has housed the Spitfire until now closed to the public on January 17, in order for staff to take down all display materials and remove the stage the on which the plane sits.
A team from GJD Aerotech, who specialise in the disassembly of aircraft, will then arrive to begin taking the plane apart piece by piece. And once that is done, the parts will be taken to Medway Aircraft Preservation Society, which will begin the process of restoring it to its former glory.
The Spitfire return to the Museum is scheduled for 2019, as the star of its new display.
The city is forever linked with the Spitfire thanks to one of its most famous sons – the aircraft designer Reginald Mitchell who was born in Kidsgrove in 1895, and was educated at Hanley High School in Stoke-on-Trent. At the age of 16, he gained an apprenticeship at the local locomotive engineering works Kerr Stuart & Co, where he then worked, while studying engineering and mathematics at night school.
In 1917, he joined the Supermarine Aviation Works at Southampton, where he quickly advanced within the company. Between 1920 and 1936 he designed many aircraft. But he is best remembered for his racing seaplanes, which culminated in the Supermarine S.6B and the iconic Second World War fighter, the Supermarine Spitfire.
Hanley High School, Mitchell High School in his honour in 1989, while the Kidsgrove primary school just by his birthplace was dedicated to him as Reginald Mitchell County Primary School.
In addition to housing one of the world famous Spitfires, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery also has a statue of R.J.Mitchell just outside the main building.
The £6m scheme to position house the Spitfire in the Museum extension is part of the council’s capital investment programme, and shows how major cultural initiatives are continuing, following the UK City of Culture bid as Stoke-on-Trent continues to build its reputation as a great cultural and creative visitor destination.
When finished, this eye-catching gallery will become one of the top attractions in the city and will further add to the city’s outstanding cultural heritage.
The city’s Spitfire – RW388 – rolled off the production line at Castle Bromwich in 1945 and is unusual among surviving planes in that it still has most of its original parts.
For further details, visit http://www.visitstoke.co.uk.