February 2022

Alan Matlock posted on Facebook 4th February 2022

A new BBMF Patron: – we now have TWO!

We are pleased to announce that Squadron Leader Dave Phillips, the newly appointed Senior Engineering Officer at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has agreed to join his predecessor, Squadron Leader Mandy Singleton, as joint patrons of The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust.

Sqn Leader Phillips says, “I am delighted and honoured to be invited to be a Patron of The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust. I see a natural link between the BBMF and our role in commemorating those who served before us in the RAF and the Trust’s role in remembering those dedicated, and often unsung heroes who made one of the RAF’s most iconic aircraft when it was most needed. I am very keen to keep this link alive during my time on the Flight.”

Dave joined the RAF in 2004 as an Aerospace Systems Engineer Officer and is currently the Senior Engineer Officer for The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. In this role he leads the team of Engineers and Technicians responsible for the maintenance and airworthiness of the Flight’s fleet of historic aircraft.

With a fleet containing two Chipmunk training aircraft, a Dakota, one of only two airworthy Lancaster bombers in the world, two Hurricanes and of course six examples of the mighty Spitfire, every day has new challenges but a walk into the hangar is guaranteed to bring a smile.

Dave is looking forward to being with us in person at a Spitfire Makers event before too long. In the meantime you can see the latest from him and the BBMF hangar here: https://www.facebook.com/BBMF.Official

Posted by Alan Matlock on Facebook – 16th February 2022

“Building Spitfires Without a Factory” talks by our Chair, Alan Matlock have started to take off again.

Last month saw a Zoom visit to the Romsey Archway U3A group revealing how several local businesses there had been identified as being involved in Spitfire production as well as flying barrels of Romsey brewery, Strong’s beer strapped to Spitfire wings for thirsty troops in Normandy.

This month a second visit to The Eastleigh & District History Society brought them a much-updated talk which resulted in further information, photos etc coming from some of the audience as well as this review: “As one who in the past did many presentations, sincerely I was very impressed. You know the secret of providing enough comment to complement good illustrated material, thanks.”

Then Hampton Place retirement living had a visit with a Shirley-slanted version of the presentation and there were lots of wartime stories shared.

Next month there will be visits to Millbrook Local History Society on Thursday 3rd and Bitterne Local History Society on Saturday 12th. Both are open to visitors. Then on 17th March Alan is taking an IOW version of the talk to the Royal Aeronautical Society branch in Newport.

Variations of the talk will be presented for two further visits to groups in Romsey, Lordshill Southampton and, in June, to Fighter Command HQ, Bentley Priory Museum.

More invitations seem to come in after each talk so if you would like to book a visit please do get in touch.

Posted on Facebook by Alan Matlock – 17th February 2022

THE CAMPAIGN (to save the Spitfire Flight Shed) CONTINUES… https://www.change.org/SOSpitfireShed

Thanks to all who have signed and shared. The amazing total is now well over 55,000!

Late last year a Listing Application for the Flight Shed was submitted to Historic England by Dave Key of “The Supermariners”: https://supermariners.wordpress.com/supermarine/ . Owing to the still imminent threat of demolition Historic England have given the application a high priority and a provisional response from them shows that they have taken on-board many of the comments raised that identified the unique significance of the Flight Shed to our history and are working with us to ensure the accuracy of their final assessment.

Sadly, not all assessments have been so thorough and we are striving to ensure that some of the omissions and misinformation that are still being presented are corrected.

Our ongoing research has uncovered more images of the Flight Shed, but period images of the interior are still elusive, this, together with a lack of access, has continued to hamper our own assessment. However, we are aware that at least one heritage expert has been allowed access and we are hoping to work with them to better understand what has survived and what the alterations can tell us of the building’s story. For now our information is limited to an ‘urban explorer’ who found his way in. One of his shots is in the collage above and the link to the video he posted on Facebook is here: https://youtu.be/wzl41BvFYS4

We are aware that the outcome may not be a positive one but the petition has led to extremely constructive links with Aviation Heritage UK: https://aviationheritageuk.org/ who are now looking to coordinate a national database of buildings such as the Flight Shed. Aviation-related structures currently seem to be accorded a lower level of protection in comparison with other industrial and historical structures. In part because there has not been a strong collective voice to fight their cause. We hope that this cross-organisation cooperation will begin to change that.

Another petition highlighting the threat to our aviation heritage is seeking to save the Historic Miles Aircraft Headquarters in Woodley, Berkshire. (Google that to find it!) It already has over 4,000 signatures.

On a smaller scale, one of the locations where Supermarine subcontractors were at work in Southampton will shortly have a commemorative plaque unveiled. What is now the Shirley Parish Hall (also subject to a planning application!) was making Spitfire jettison fuel tanks and air filters. More of these plaques are planned to go up in many locations across Southampton and beyond: www.spitfiremakers.org.uk

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