IT is one of the most iconic sites in Southampton.
Now more than four years after the plant shut its doors for the last time, a community heritage group aims to ensure that its history is not forgotten.
Eastleigh-based social enterprise Now Heritage CIC has received £70,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new project called, TRANSITion.
The project, lead by volunteers from the area, aims to explore the historically significant site, dating back to the Spitfire production at Cunliffe-Owen.
Heritage CIC Director Emma Golby-Kirk said: “The story of the site itself needs to be told, so that it is not forgotten.
“We want to make a museum in the heart of the community with real historic value.
“We want community members to tell their own stories and experiences.”
The project will be firmly rooted in the Swaythling neighbourhood and anyone will be able to drop in to the Round About café on Westfield Corner to share their story or get involved in activities.
Arthur Buck, 96, who built spitfires at Cunliffe-Owen, said: “I liked working there a lot, I really enjoyed it.
“I still remember when the site was bombed by the Germans across the Itchen River. The whole site was destroyed - luckily I was at home and wasn’t working that day. I don’t think anyone was in the building, we had excellent air raid sirens, so people were able to get into the shelters.”
A team of community volunteers over the age of sixteen will be trained and supported to research the history of the Ford site, run memory sharing events and carry out oral history interviews.
Mansbridge Primary School children will take part in exciting drama and dance based workshops exploring Southampton’s shift from making things to moving things.
Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, Stuart McLeod, said: “Southampton has made a huge contribution to the transport industries of the UK.
“We’re really pleased that money raised by National Lottery players can enable Now Heritage CIC to share this history with their community, as well as provide fantastic training opportunities for volunteers.”
The scheme has been supported by Cllr Bob Painton, who said: “Unless you give the younger generation history to inspire them, they will not be able to flourish and look after their own future.
“It is important to remember the past otherwise it will be forgotten. At the moment people still remember it, countless generations have worked there and it has always been a family orientated place.”
The project will be launched on April 17 for one year.
If you would like to take part, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone Emma on 023 80262629.