Stoke-on-Trent’s iconic Spitfire has landed at its stunning new £5.4m home, in The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
And while Spitfire RW388 itself is quite rightly the star exhibit, the new free-to-visit exhibition space also reveals more about the story of the plane and its designer, Reginald Mitchell, who has close connections to the city.
To many, Stoke-on-Trent might seem to be a curious place to find one of the world’s most instantly recognisable fighter planes. But 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.
The relationship between the aircraft and its designer is one of the things that the new gallery portrays perfectly.
At the age of 16, Mitchell 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.
In addition to housing one of the world-famous Spitfires, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery also has a statue of a reflective Reginald Mitchell just outside the main building.
The new exhibition space features glass walls at the front and back, so visitors can see the plane lit-up at night. Forever dubbed “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.
Discover more at www.stokemuseums.org.uk/pmag/exhibitions/spitfire/
For more information on Stoke-on-Trent as a destination, see www.visitstoke.co.uk