For more than 40 years a model Spitfire has stood in a Shropshire village garden as a tribute to ‘The Few’. Now, after two years of work by a young apprentices at the RAF Museum in Cosford, it has been restored to its former glory.
For more than 40 years a model Spitfire has stood in a Shropshire village garden as a tribute to ‘The Few’.
But old age and the elements were taking their toll, and by 2010 the landmark, in Kynnersley, near Telford, was in a very sorry state.
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But now, after two years of work by a young apprentices at the RAF Museum in Cosford, it has been restored to its former glory and is back on display in the garden, where it is set to stand proud for many years to come.
“I think it looks great,” said householder John Lloyd, 67, who lives with his wife, Joan, and son, Darren, 43.
The Spitfire was a garden feature when he bought the house 14 years ago.
It is thought that it was originally made as a weather vane.
“Everyone around here knows the house that has the Spitfire in the garden,” Mr Lloyd added.
“For years it was a landmark and people used to say to me ‘you live where the plane is don’t you?’ and after a while if I ever needed to tell anyone where I lived, I’d just say where the plane is.”
But one man who had been driving past the house for many years decided that it had seen better days.
The driver, who has not been named, sent an email to the RAF Museum, bringing to their attention the fact that the Spitfire was badly rusted up and in need of some special care.
Mr Lloyd said: “The man had been driving past the house for 30 years or more and had seen it get into a bit of a state from how it was previously.”
After looking at the model, the museum saw it as a great learning opportunity for its team of apprentices.
Bosses got in touch with Mr Lloyd and offered to restore it.
The project was led by museum apprentice Laura Pringle, 20, from Dawley, with assistance from her fellow apprentices and guidance from the museum’s aircraft technicians.
The extensive work included removing the corroded skin and building a new cockpit, complete with pilot.
The wings were also stripped and re-sized to the correct proportion, the nose cone was rebuilt, wing fairings were altered to make it more aerodynamic, an air intake scoop was added to the front of the aircraft, and, finally, the complete model was given a repaint.
Laura said: “I enjoyed working with all the other apprentices on the project.
“We were all able to learn different skills from each other’s trades. We learned how to roll aluminium, how to weld as well as working with, and treating, different types of wood.”
After spending almost two years in the RAF Museum’s Conservation Centre, the model has now been returned to Mr Lloyd, who is so pleased with the result that he has made a generous donation to the museum.
Laura joined the museum’s apprenticeship programme in autumn 2010, around the same time as the museum received the email from the member of public.
The apprenticeship was set up in 2005 and looked for potential aircraft engineers specialising in metal working.
Mr Shepherd said: “The museum is committed to preserving aviation heritage, whilst recognising the need to ensure that unique skills are retained and developed amongst the younger generation.”
By Jon Pritchard