The Supermarine Spitfire is a British icon, widely acknowledged as not only an engineering and aesthetic triumph, but also an inspiration to the millions who united during the Second World War, in pursuit of peace. On the eve of its 80th birthday, this is the perfect time to erect a national monument to commemorate the Spitfire’s role in that great endeavour, the hope and courage that it represents, and its ongoing legacy.
From the engineering prowess of its designer, RJ Mitchell, to the hard work of men and women building the aircraft, and on to those who flew, operated, and maintained the aircraft around the world – the National Spitfire Monument will stand as a fitting tribute to this great, British icon.
There are several smaller memorials to this iconic aircraft, but the National Spitfire Monument brings every part of the Spitfire story together – commemorating the pilots and ground crews, and the people who designed and built the aircraft, even in the event of their factory being bombed.
Southampton – the birthplace of this legend – is the national focal point for this memory. The Supermarine Spitfire is an iconic statement of British engineering expertise, and it deserves a monument in its home city.
The National Spitfire Project came to life over a decade ago, and the team looked at several locations for the monument to be sited. While the story of the Spitfire spreads across the nation, Southampton was chosen because it’s the birthplace of this aircraft, where the design took shape, and the first iterations of this national icon were built. Mayflower Park was chosen due to its commanding location overlooking the Solent – it’s visible from all of the cruise terminals, which means the National Spitfire Monument will be seen by millions.
The site on Southampton’s historic waterfront was generously donated by Southampton City Council, where the more than 1.8 million passengers pass by on one of the 450 cruise ships that visit Southampton each year. When it was decided that Trafalgar Dock should become the new Red Funnel Ferry Terminal, as part of the £450 million Royal Pier development, it became sensible to focus plans for the National Spitfire Monument at Mayflower Park.
The design gives the monument a prominent position against the backdrop of Southampton Water; the reproduction aircraft – 1.5 times the size of the original Spitfire – is the simplest, most effective way to commemorate the aircraft’s design; the stainless steel mast soars skyward, a reminder of the sorties and flights made by the Spitfire between 1939 and 1948 – and the plinth pays tribute to the men and women who made this story so memorable.
Legacy & future
The National Spitfire Monument will be an inspiration not only to local visitors, but also to the wider general public who become aware of its purpose and the Spitfire’s role in the pursuit of peace.
By including interactive features – proximity to the roundels will trigger multimedia information (videos, audio, photos, narratives) within a mobile app – we can ensure the means to update content as needs change. Perhaps to reflect different anniversaries, occasions, or particular content for students, families, or historians.