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Battle of Britain: Restored Spitfire unveiled in Stoke-on-Trent

IDBS ART GALLERY

A Spitfire which was donated to Stoke-on-Trent in honour of the famous aircraft’s designer has gone on display in a new £5.4m glass gallery.

The Mark XVI Spitfire was unveiled in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery’s extension on Battle of Britain Day.

The new Spitfire Gallery will tell the story of the famous aircraft designed by Reginald Mitchell.

Julian Mitchell, his great-nephew, expressed hope that it would serve as a “inspiration,” especially for future engineers.

The plane, which was donated to the area by the RAF in 1972, spent three years in a workshop at an airfield in Kent, where it was restored, before being transported back and lowered into its new home by a crane.

The Spitfire was restored during three years in a workshop at an airfield in Kent

Mr Mitchell, whose great-uncle died aged 42 in 1937, remembered being taken as a child to the ceremony when it first went on display.

“The plane is very important to the people of Stoke-on-Trent. The Spitfire, I believe, means a lot to the people of the country, and it is a symbol of hope “He stated.

It will be lit up at night in the gallery, which will open to the public on Saturday.

World War II veteran Norman Lewis, 102, of Meir, was among those who saw the restored Spitfire and described it as a “wonderful sight.”

He was captured in France in June 1940 while serving with the Royal Engineers.

“I drove 10,000 miles in three months and returned home on April 1, 1945. When I arrived in Egypt, they informed me that I had five years of back pay to pick up, which was fantastic.”

The reconditioned Spitfire will be the new centre-piece of the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery

Mr Mitchell hoped it would “inspire visitors to think about the possibilities in engineering” and contribute to closing the profession’s “massive skills gap.”

He went on to say that it would also tell the storey of a “local boy” who was educated and apprenticed in the area and “went on to create the most beautiful aircraft that ever was built, that ever flew, and helped save the country in its hour of greatest peril.”

“It’s here as a symbol of hope, of inspiration, and really something that says to anyone who drives past ‘anything’s possible,” he said.

The exhibition received a grant of £210,000 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport and the Wolfson Foundation.

The Mark XVI Spitfire was built in Castle Bromwich, West Midlands, in May 1945 and flew until it was damaged during take-off in 1952.

SourceBBC
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