Spitfire flies over Kingsclere to celebrate village club's 100th birthday
KINGSCLERE residents gathered on the streets this weekend to celebrate the village club’s 100th birthday and witness a special flypast by a Spitfire.
The Spitfire – a one-person fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War – soared over the village three times, wowing villagers who’d stepped out onto the streets or into their gardens to watch.
The event was organised by the village club’s chairwoman Sharon Morris around three years ago as part of a wider celebration of the village club’s history, much of which had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
However, the Spitfire flypast was still able to go ahead, and Mrs Morris said it had been great to “put a smile on so many people’s faces”.
She said: “Everyone likes a good morale booster, and it certainly was.
“It was so exciting and exhilarating, and it’s been so well received by people throughout the village.
“It’s been really lovely reading the comments people are making online about how it brought back memories for them, family members that have worked building or flying Spitfires, and how much people enjoyed the sounds of the engine and people feeling that the wave at the end, where the pilot tipped his wings, was personally for them.”
The Spitfire used for the flypast – Mk Vb AB910 – was built in 1941 at the Castle Bromwich Aeroplane Factory and in 1942 was part of one of the largest air battles of the war, supporting Operation Jubilee – an Allied-attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe.
Two years later, Spitfire AB910 formed part of the cover patrols during the day and night of the D-Day landings.
It was ‘demobbed’ at the end of the Second World War.
Mrs Morris said she had wanted to celebrate a century of the building’s history in a special way.
She added: “The village club has been around since the late 1880s as a reading room and coffee house, but it was given to us 100 years ago.
“It’s been through a lot in the last 100 years and I just thought it would be a really good way of celebrating all that’s happened in there.
“It was also about highlighting to local people that it’s a local facility for them to use – that it’s there for everyone.”
The building, which has village hall status, was gifted to the people of Kingsclere 100 years ago by Mary, William, Ursula and Lilian Holding, the children of the late William Holding.
Mr Holding was originally born in London but moved to Beenham Court, Headley – now Cheam School – with his wife Mary Alice in 1874, before moving again to Burghclere Manor.
In 1898 or 1899 they moved to Elm Grove, Kingsclere, following Mr Holding’s retirement from a career as a barrister, and in 1920, Mr Holding resigned from the Board of Guardians for the Kingsclere Union workhouse having served for 45 years – 42 as a chairman.
He had also been chairman of the local petty sessions court from 1878, and a county councillor from 1888 to 1921.
Mr Holding died on July 20, 1921, aged 84.
He was laid to rest with Mary Alice, who had died in 1918, outside the west door of St Mary’s Church.
He is immortalised by the plaque above the entrance to the village club.