AN INFORMATION plaque has been officially unveiled for the Longbridge Flight Shed which was instrumental in the war effort.
The board in Lowhill Lane, opposite Cofton Park and near Groveley Lane, provides details on the building which was constructed in 1937 to build fighters and bombers for the British Armed Forces during the Second World War.
Lord Austin approached the Government at the time, asking him how he could help the war effort and it became apparent a place was needed where aircraft could be built.
When it was constructed it was revolutionary and had the biggest unsupported roof in the whole of Europe.
Its large structure enabled it to accommodate the giant aircraft with their vast wingspans and aircraft would literally be flown out of there as soon as they were built.
Among the models constructed there were the Hurricane, the Fairey Battle, the Avro Lancaster and the Shorts Stirling.
Despite a campaign to save it, it was finally demolished in 2011 as part of the Longbridge regeneration and homes have been built there by Taylor Wimpey.
Since then former Longbridge councillor Andy Cartwright and Frankley Parish Councillor and Pride of Longbridge historian Ian Bruckshaw campaigned to have something in the area and, working with the developers, came up with the idea for the plaque.
The plaque was officially unveiled earlier today by Andy, Ian and Lynne Wilkinson from Taylor Wimpey.
Andy remembers the Flight Shed from his days working at MG Rover.
“The first day I walked into work I asked my manager what it was and he told me it was called the ‘Flight Shed’ and to go and Google it.
“I did and the first thing I saw was a picture of Lord Austin with Sir Winston Churchill in the shed.
“I really got into the history of it.
“We are hoping people will come down, bring their children and read all about what happened here.
“Sir Herbert Austin was a very clever man and was one of the first people to say to the Government of the time – ‘come and use my factory for the war effort’ and we should be very proud of that.”
He thanked Taylor Wimpey for funding the project, saying it was a ‘fantastic partnership’.
Click below to hear our audio interview with Andy Cartwright –
Ian added: “It was a huge building and a very important part of the factory and our history.
“The fighters that were built here used to take off from here but the bombers were part made and transported to
Marston Green where the wings were put on them ready for their operations.
“Although the plaque is not that big it has a lot of information on it.”
Click below to hear our audio interview with Ian Bruckshaw –
Tony Osborne, who started work at the factory when he was a teenager, had read up extensively on the Flight Shed and put together the information for the board.
They could not decide where to put the plaque and its final location has been fittingly placed not too far from a residential road called ‘Flight Shed Way’, also named in memory of the building which was once there.
The plaque has also fittingly been unveiled the day before Remembrance Sunday and in the year when we are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. The Avro Lancaster, one of the aircraft built at Longbridge Flight Shed, was involved in the operation.