Appeal for Rainham Spitfire factory

A HORNCHURCH historian is appealing for people who may have worked in a Rainham factory in the 1940s repairing damaged spitfires as part of the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the aircraft.

Richard Smith wants to speak to anyone who worked in the factory, which is believed to have been based near the site of the former Cherry Tree Pub in Cherry Tree Lane, Rainham.

He said: “We have got to keep as muuch history alive as possible because most of the people I have talked to that were really instrumental during that time have either passed away or are getting very old.

“Once they are gone that will be lost so we have to record it for future generations and so that when they are young people that have an interest in that topic they will be able to accept the information from these people.”

From the early 1940s, Richard believes that factorie employees based in Rainham would work on the basic repair works of the spitfire.


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The site was one of many dispersal aircraft repair sites across the country, where people would work on repairing the aircraft’s wings and body frames.

Richard, who has written a number of books on the subject, first came across the factory as part of research he was doing two years ago on the site.

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He said: “I spoke to lots of residents and surprisingly there were many of them who said that they remember the small factory where people used to work and there was also another place next to Rainham Hall where they use to work on the repairs.”

The appeal is part of the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the aircraft which now has become a British icon and a symbol of the Second World War.

To mark the anniversary a special exhibition will take place on Sunday March 6 at the Purfleet Heritage And Military Centre.

For the first day of the exhibition, Richard is hoping to have the return of one of the world’s oldest spitfires and to be able to reunite many of the people who may have played in the history of spitfires.

He said: “Most people, even children know about the spitfire and it was a big success during the Second World War.

“If it was a failure, it would not have gone on to help win the Battle Of Britain and to stop the German invasion.”

If you were one of the people that worked at the Rainham factory or know anyone else that might have, contact the newsdesk on 0208 477 4444.

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