Heritage group defends airfield commemoration designs (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Argument over plans for artwork to commemorate wartime airfields at Fairlop Waters
The man behind plans for commemorative artwork at a site used as a wartime airfield has hit back at critics of the proposed sculpture.
David Martin, 70, of the Fairlop Heritage Group secured support from Redbridge Vision for the two versions of the sculpture which are currently on show at Fairlop Waters in Barkingside.
The vertical steel structure will stand 15 feet high and represent the Spitfires, Avro 504Es and Sopwith Camel planes which flew out of airfields at Fairlop during the First and Second World Wars.
But the designs have proved unpopular with some local councillors, one of whom has described them as ‘rubbish’.
Mr Martin said: “You can argue about the look, but this is not Whitehall it is a country park and these pieces are very much in context with the environment.
“I’m disappointed that some of our councillors have expressed their doubts or bad feelings about them.
“I really had hoped they would support us because we believe they form a fitting tribute to the 1,700 men and women who served out of Fairlop.”
Conservative councillor Ashley Kissin who represents Barkingside has been the most vocal opponent of the artworks.
He said: “As a keen amateur military historian myself, I have to say that I think these designs are rubbish.
“They do nothing for me and I don’t think they will for anybody else either.
“If you had a proper replica of a Spitfire it would actually bring people into the area, but this? It looks like a bit of old bombcasing.
“They are an insult to Spitfires and should be consigned to the dustbin.”
Mr Martin said: “I don’t understand that.
“Yes, it would be nice to have a replica of a Spitfire and we looked into it, but to get one would cost £38,000 and there simply isn’t the money for it. These works will cost a few thousand.”
He was backed by Second World War veteran Harold Bennett, 91, who was the first pilot to fly a Spitfire out of Fairlop.
He said: “I like the designs and think others will too.
“I’m very happy that that they are doing something to commemorate those of us who served out of Fairlop.”
The designs are currently on display at Fairlop Waters and will be installed at the site as long as Redbridge Council grants planning permission.
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