The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley, Staffordshire temporarily closed its Spitfire gallery on Wednesday as part of an extensive project that will see Spitfire LF Mk. XVIe RW388 “reborn.”
The aircraft, which was built by Vickers-Armstrongs, Ltd. in 1945, served in a training role during WW2 and also towed targets for Navy ships. Following the war it was used as a gate guard at RAF Benson and RAF Andover before being officially presented to the city of Stoke-on-Trent by the Royal Air Force in 1972. It was installed at the museum in 1985 and has taken a place of honor in their Spitfire gallery, which is dedicated to the type’s locally-born designer, Reginald Mitchell.
The museum closed the gallery in order to begin the process of disassembling the aircraft so it can be removed from the museum for restoration “to its former glory.” The full museum will be closed beginning on January 22nd so relocation can be carried out, with reopening scheduled for February 10th.
In 2019, the restored Spitfire is slated to return to the museum for display in a new, £6 million glass-fronted extension that will also include a new cafe and city square.
Volunteers from Operation Spitfire and Friends of the Potteries Museum have already raised a significant amount toward the project, and the city council has recently agreed to cover the majority of the needed funds. A bid to Heritage Lottery Fund is also planned in order to provide interpretation panels.