THE campaign to raise £4m for a monument to the iconic Spitfire in Southampton has taken off.

It marks the start of the bid to raise the cash necessary for the 40m tall statue of a soaring aircraft on the city's waterfront.

There are hopes the monument will become a world-famous landmark and one of the centrepieces of the £400m Royal Pier development.

Plans for a lasting tribute to the iconic World War Two aircraft, which was built in Southampton and played a major role in the successful defence of the UK from Nazi Germany, have been in the pipeline for several years.

It had originally been proposed to be built at sites in Town Quay and Trafalgar Dock, but those ideas were rejected due to the cost and the fact that Red Funnel is set to relocate its main terminal to Trafalgar Dock.

But now it looks set to take pride of place in a renovated Mayflower Park - if the Royal Pier plans are approved and the money can be raised for the monument.

The National Spitfire Monument charity was formed earlier this year to drive through the plans and former Rolls Royce chief executive Sir Ralph Robins was named as president.

While it is expected money towards the estimated £4m required for the statute will come from major businesses and organisations, the charity is asking members of the public to contribute towards the appeal.

City councillor and chairman of the National Spitfire Project's board of trustees John Hannides said: “This is a monument to an incredible part of our national heritage.

“It is so important that this is in Southampton, but just as it pays tribute to our past, the interactive features will make it relevant for today and will inspire future generations too.”

“The charity has made great inroads with this project, but now we turn to the people of Southampton and further afield to help the project really take off.

"The Spitfire itself was an early example of crowdfunding in action as the public bought sixpenny savings stamps and donated their pots, pans, gates and railings to be melted down specifically to help build more Spitfires – and it changed the course of history.

"Now’s our chance to do the same, and by launching this crowdfunding campaign, we’re hoping the public will contribute.”

Anyone wanting to contribute towards the campaign can do so by logging on to and searching for "The National Monument to the Spitfire".

The statue is just one of the elements planned for the major redevelopment of Royal Pier.

City council planners are currently looking at Royal Pier Waterfront's planning application to overhaul the derelict pier and replace it with a thriving complex of homes, businesses and open space.

If the plans are approved the site could contain 730 flats, 47,000sq m of office space and up to 50 bars, restaurants, shops and cafes.

There would also be a market, four or five-star hotel and spa and a large casino as well as a "hub" building for cultural, arts and technology.

If the plans are approved in the New Year the relocation of the Red Funnel terminal, the first major step, would take place in 2017.

Work on the rest of the site could then begin in 2018 and be completed by 2023.

The Spitfire statue may be built by the end of 2018.