A SPITFIRE from the Battle of Britain Memorial Fight will fill the sky over Clitheroe with the thrilling roar of its Rolls-Royce Merlin engine later this year.
Organisers of Clitheroe’s Torchlight 2012 weekend have confirmed that the iconic Second World War fighter will play a dramatic part in the August Bank Holiday weekend festivities, marking both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympics.
“The distinctive sound and silhouette of the Spitfire is perhaps one of the best-known images of British engineering success and marked the start of a rapid development of aviation technology that our Queen has witnessed going from strength to strength over the past 60 years,” said Ian Woolstencroft, chairman of the Torchlight committee.
The Spitfire display is seen as a fitting tribute to an area steeped in aviation history. Clitheroe was the place where the jet engine was developed and tested during the Second World War by its inventor Sir Frank Whittle. The Rover factory at Salthill became the home of the jet following the need to avoid bombing in the Midlands.
The then Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, visited to see Whittle’s work, famously stopping for refreshments at the Swan and Royal Hotel, Clitheroe, where rooms are named after the famous inventor and Sir Winston.
The pioneering work heralded world-class manufacturing that really took off in the early part of the Queen’s reign, with British Aerospace building the famous Canberra and dazzling English Electric Lighting aircraft at their Samlesbury site during the 1950s and ’60s. Today in Ribble Valley, the BAe Systems Samlesbury site continues this great aviation heritage with the Typhoon and new Joint Strike Fighter, both of which owe their existence to the skills and determination of those early pioneers in Clitheroe.
Full details of the display will be published shortly, with organisers in talks to secure other aircraft to help mark the jubilee and the special place that Ribble Valley has played in aviation history.