September 2021

Alan Matlock posted on Facebook – 1st September 2021

SAVE THE SPITFIRE FLIGHT SHED update…

BBC Radio Solent will be talking to me, Alan Matlock, chair of the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust and Dave Key (The Supermariners https://supermariners.wordpress.com/) tomorrow morning just after 7 and around 7.30.

We’ll be bringing listeners up to date with progress on the Save the Flight Shed petition and the action to bring in a building preservation order which is asking the City Council to prevent the developers going ahead for at least 6 months.

As reported in the Echo: https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/…/19537792.preservation…/ this excellent move has been made by Alan Jones, the director, and the Trustees of Solent Sky Museum.

The petition has now passed 41,500 supporters and has been shared nearly 8,000 times.

SUPERMARINERS.WORDPRESS.COMThe SupermarinersThe men & women who created a legend

Alan Matlock posted on Facebook – 8th September 2021

Step back in time inside a real Spitfire Factory…

Sunday 12th September. 11 – 4pm at the Shirley Parish Hall, St James Rd, Shirley, SO15 5QF (premises requisitioned in WWII to make Spitfire fuel tanks and air filters).

“The Journey to Peace” – remembering the end of WWII in Shirley.

A National Heritage Open Day event hosted by the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust.

FREE ENTRY.

Everyone will be most welcome. Former Supermarine employees and their families will be attending.

Exhibition of historic photos and memorabilia from the Spitfire Makers, Shirley Local History Group, Solent Sky Museum and The Supermariners website.

Guided walks on The Shirley Spitfire Trail. 90 minute and 60 minute routes taking in the sites related to Spitfire making and other amazing stories of Shirley’s past – a bicycle factory, a British Heavyweight Champion and the only WWII Victoria Cross won on mainland Britain. (Leaving at 11.30 and 12.00am; 2.00 and 2.30pm.)

+ latest news on:*Spitfire Makers Commemorative Plaques Project* and*Petition to save the original Spitfire Flight Shed, still standing at Southampton Airport.* (44,213+ have now signed!)

We look forward to seeing you there.

Email: spitfiremakersresearch@btinternet.com for more information.

Robert Stidworthy posted on Facebook – 13th September 2021

Yesterday 12/09/2021 at the Shirley Parish Hall St. James Rd Shirley, Southampton, premises requisitioned in WWII to make Spitfire fuel tanks and air filters.

“The Journey to Peace” – remembering the end of WWII in Shirley. A National Heritage Open Day event was hosted by the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust.

For more information and photos go to our Events Page

Michaela Lawler-Levene posted on Facebook – 14th September 2021

Did you know that they found the original Flight Shed that tested the first Spitfires and the planes during WW2? It is still there, between the old Ford Factory and Southampton Airport. It is now under threat of demolition. The deadline for objections to SCC planning department to save the Flight shed under this ref Planning application 21_00915_FUL Wide Lane, Southampton: Planning Portal Reference: PP-09932502 is 15th Sep. There is also an online petition which at the time of writing has over 45,000 signatures. If you want to add to this, here is the link.

Petition · Save the original Spitfire Flight Shed from demolition · Change.org

Michaela Lawler-Levene posted on Facebook – 14th September 2021

Congratulations to Sue Hutton, winner of the signed copy of ‘Spitfire Kids’ by Alasdair Cross (and Dave Key of Supermariners). Sue is pictured here with her mother, Jean Hutton, who both came along to the Heritage Open Day event at the Shirley Parish Hall on 12th September 2021.

The title of the event was, ‘The Journey to Peace,’ as we reflected on the lead up to the end of WW2. Originally, this was going to be a VE Day 75 event, but this was postponed due to Covid. We are grateful to Southampton Voluntary Services, who allowed us to run this event a year later.

Jean remembered VE Day, Sue writes, ‘Mum was 16 and had just started her first job with the Post Office, as a telegraphist, in Bournemouth. On VE Day she was on the beach with work friends, when Winston Churchill announced that the war was over. She recalls everyone on the beach clapping, cheering, dancing and celebrating with American and Canadian soldiers. Indeed, one Canadian proposed to her, but she declined!

Her family was dispersed due to the war – Mother in High Wycombe, working in a munitions factory, Father in the Middle East with the Royal Engineers and sisters in Glasgow, nursing. ‘

Alan Matlock posted on Facebook – 15th September 2021

Bournemouth Air Festival 2021 brings Spitfire Makers’ Patron to Southampton

We were delighted to finally be able to meet our Patron, Squadron Leader Mandy Singleton, at a special gathering of invited guests. Mandy, the Senior Engineering Officer for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, was with her team of engineers at Bournemouth Air Festival making sure that one of the BBMF Spitfires (Mark IX MK356), the Hurricane and Dakota were ready to fly each day.

After a day of flying, she and her O/C at the BBMF, Sqn. Ldr. Mark ‘Disco’ Discombe, drove over to Southampton, the Home of the Spitfire, and gave an enthralling talk about the history of the BBMF, their different planes and how they maintain and fly them. The title of their presentation was “The Few that Enable the Many” reflecting the way that the small team of the BBMF display their planes to many millions each year. (The credo of the Spitfire Makers is in fact the opposite: we seek to commemorate the Many who helped build the plane for the famous Few to fly.)

The talk was followed by a lively Q&A session which included questions on the Spitfire drop tanks from our Honorary President, Don Smith. Don made drop tanks and air filters in the back streets of Southampton as a fourteen year old apprentice more than 80 years ago.

Mandy and Mark stayed on to draw the winning tickets for the Raffle. First prize was a signed print of a BBMF Spitfire (kindly donated) but there was also a delicious Spitfire Ale hamper, a Spitfire Makers cake and a signed copy of “Spitfire Kids” by Alasdair Cross (in which Don Smith’s story is mentioned).

Even then they couldn’t get away before they had given more of their time to talk to a queue of individuals, young and old, keen to ask “just one more question”! This was typical of their modest, generous and unassuming manner and on behalf of them both Mark said, “It was our pleasure and engaging with groups like the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust is one of the better parts of the job. I look forward to meeting up again before I hand over the reins. ”One of the highlights of the evening was to have several former Supermarine workers with us and even more of their family members.

(Due to Covid protocols at the venue, it was regretfully not possible to advertise the event publicly and attendance was arranged by direct invitation only. As restrictions ease, Spitfire Makers hope to be able to hold similar events within the city and to open these to general admission.)

Photos courtesy Infinity Photography: infinityphotography@hotmail.co.uk

For more information and photos go to our Events page

Alan Matlock posted on Facebook – 18th September 2021

Hope to see some of you later today at the Pear Tree 1620 Heritage Day. It’s 11-3.30 at Pear Tree Church, in the Church Hall and on Pear Tree Green: Southampton SO19 7RT.

The Spitfire Makers team will be there with a display and the latest on the Petition to Save the Original Spitfire Flight Shed https://chng.it/CcNM8zJn – over 45,600 have now signed!

If you’d like to hear Chair, Alan Matlock’s “Building Spitfires Without a Factory” talk you can catch him on Zoom here https://www.wegottickets.com/event/515203

We have heard of quite a few who were disappointed not to be able to join the guided walk of The Shirley Spitfire Trail last weekend. Another date is being arranged which is already more than half full. If you’d like to come along on Sunday, October 10th, starting at 10.30am please email spitfiremakersresearch@btinternet.com.

We will put you on the list (in order of notification) and confirm details, and let you know if there are still spaces available, by the previous Sunday, 3rd October.

Robert Stidworthy posted on Facebook 19th September 2021

Spitfire Makers had a stand at ” Pear Tree Church” Bitterne, Southampton Heritage Open Day yesterday Saturday 18th September 2021.

The Spitfire Makers ” Guess the Number of Spitfire Rivets ” in the Jar competition was Won by ” Charlie”. Alan Matlock ” Chair ” of the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust presented Charlie his Prize at the end of the event, “The Spitfire Kids ” Book.

For more photos go to our Events page

Robert Stidworthy posted on Facebook – 19th September 2021

Spitfire Makers had a stand at ” Pear Tree Church” Bitterne, Southampton Heritage Open Day yesterday Saturday 18th September 2021. Here a glimpse at what else was at the event.

For more photos go to our Facebook page

Alan Matlock posted on Facebook – 24th September 2021

Getting close to 50,000!

We’ve had an amazing response to the petition to Save the Original Spitfire Flight Shed : 46,225 signatures at the time of writing – on this the 81st anniversary of the bombing of the Supermarine Works in Southampton.

We’ve yet to establish a definite date for its construction but more information is coming to light all the time about the Flight Shed’s use over the years.

For 60 years, from 1953 to 2013, the Ford Motor Company made Transit vans in the former Cunliffe Owen Aircraft factory and we know they used and maintained the Flight Shed building that was next to it.

Even when production stopped, Ford continued to use the Flight Shed building as a Car Conditioning Centre until December 2019. We’re contacting some of these former Ford staff who were working there until less than two years ago as well as Supermarine staff who remember it from the late 40s and early 50s!

The best of the information will be collated and presented to the Southampton City Council Planning Meeting next month.

It has been great to hear so many supportive comments on the petition and to have been approached directly by several key individuals who want to help us see a successful outcome to this protest.

Former Ford worker Gary Appleton has got in touch and donated his copy of the painting of the original Cunliffe Owen Aircraft Factory which once hung in the Plant Manager’s office. The Supermarine Flight shed is clearly visible beyond the main factory, standing where it has been for over 80 years.

The photos show Gary holding the framed print of the original factory, a close up of the painting itself and an aerial photo commissioned by Gary in 2000 with the Flight Shed circled. The photo of the Supermarine workers and several Spitfires outside the Flight Shed was taken for a Flight Magazine article: “Spitfires for the Squadrons” published on 9th February, 1939. (Photo from heritageflightsim.com)

Please keep sharing – not far till we reach 50,000!

Robert Stidworthy posted on Facebook – 24th September 2021

Remembering the Supermarine Fallen that were killed in the Bombing of the Woolston & Itchen Works Southampton on the 24th September 1940 & 26th September 1940.

I placed a Cross on Peartree Green, Hazel Road where Itchen Works were and at Spitfire Court near the Woolston Works Position.

Also put a Potted Plant & Cross on ” Peggy ” Moon Grave ( The Girl in Green ) at St. Mary Extra Cemetery

On behalf of the ( ” Spitfire Makers, Solent Sky Museum, The Supermariners, & Spitfire Society )

Michaela Lawler-Levene posted on Facebook – 25th September 2021

In March 2020, I became a trustee of a newly founded charitable organisation called The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust. Most people are interested in this because they love the plane, but one of my main reasons was to honour the many who made the plane during WW2 in shadow factories across Southampton and beyond. A fact that easily gets forgotten is that many of these workers were women and teenagers, called up for compulsory war work. One of those shadow factories, staffed mainly by women, was what is now Shirley Parish Hall in Southampton, where we have been holding public local history talks and meetings since 2008 as the FoSJP History group and since 2016 as Shirley Local History Group. There was a newspaper article written in the 1960s in library archives, interviewing Fred Stilwell, who has been sent to Southampton to run the factory. A fascinating read! A blue memorial plaque is due to be erected on the Parish Hall, funded by local people through FoSJP and Shirley Local History Group’s fundraising efforts. The 24th and 26th Sept is the 81st anniversary of the Supermarine Factory being bombed and destroyed at Woolston, forcing production into these shadow factories. Thanks go to Robert on our team who has placed wooden memorial crosses with a poppy at several important sites across the city in remembrance.

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