Eighty-three years after the Luftwaffe bombed the Spitfire factories in Southampton and drove production underground, Salisbury Cathedral Clerk of Works Gary Price and stonemasons Dave Vanstone and Matt Barton have fixed a carved stone commemorating the ‘secret’ Spitfire makers on the Cathedral’s East End.
The carving, which celebrates the largely untrained workforce of young girls, boys, women, elderly men and handful of engineers who built the aircraft secretly in Salisbury, Trowbridge, Reading and Southampton, was installed facing inwards – a story waiting to be discovered by future generations of masons restoring the building in centuries to come.
Almost 2,500 Spitfires were built in Salisbury as part of this ‘undercover’ plan, with a total of around 11,000 built across the region hidden in sheds, garages, back gardens, a bus depot and a hotel. An amazing wartime effort that was instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain.
The stone was paid for from the proceeds of a 2018 screening of The Secret Spitfire documentary in Salisbury Cathedral. The films producers kindly donated their profits to the Cathedral’s fabric fund and the stone was carved in the Cathedral’s workshops by stonemason Carol Pike.
Photos by Finbarr Webster