Plans have been submitted for a new Spitfire gallery at the Potteries Museum in Hanley.
They show how Stoke-on-Trent’s Spitfire will take pride of place in a newly-built extension at the city centre attraction.
The gallery would have large glass panels at the front and back, making the iconic plane – based on Reginald Mitchell’s famous design – visible to the outside world.
The extension would be two-storeys tall, with the Spitfire and associated exhibition material on the ground floor. It would connect to a refurbished museum café, which will have views into the Spitfire gallery. The first floor would feature a viewing platform to look down on the Spitfire from above, and additional room for other museum exhibitions.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which is delivering the project as part of its capital programme of investments across the city, is hoping to start building work in March 2019, subject to the scheme gaining planning approval. It could open to the public in spring 2020.
Councillor Anthony Munday, cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure, said: “This is a really exciting milestone for the project. The artist impressions for the new Spitfire gallery look stunning and would give this icon of our nation’s history a fantastic new home in a first class gallery. As a venue, this would really take our museum up another level and give the city something to be really proud of. It would be an iconic feature.”
The Spitfire was painstakingly removed piece-by-piece from the museum in January and taken to Medway Aircraft Preservation Society, in Kent, where it is currently being restored to its former glory by a team of experts. Once complete, it will return to the museum as the star of its new attraction.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “This development would play a big part in the ongoing regeneration of the city centre. It would become one of the city’s top attractions, and really add to our existing cultural and tourism offer. Along with the construction work at Smithfield, and the demolition of the old bus station site which is under way, it’s an exciting time for the city centre right now.”
Councillor Ann James, leader of the city council, said: “This is about inspiring and investing in the future generation of Stoke-on-Trent. Reginald Mitchell was one of North Staffordshire’s most famous sons and we want our young people to be able to look up to him, see what he achieved, and go on to do great things themselves. This would be a fitting way to celebrate his achievements and contributions.”
Plans for the new Spitfire gallery have gone on display to the public inside the museum.
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Defence, visited the museum today to see the inspiring For the Fallen exhibition. While at the museum, he was also shown plans for the new Spitfire Gallery. He said: “I think it’s incredibly exciting. The new gallery won’t just inspire people to think of the glories of the past, but inspire them – especially youngsters – to be part of the glories of the future.”