Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST) has received £54,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a new exciting participation project, Out of the Shadows, in Southampton. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, Out of the Shadows will reignite a local story of national significance, unearthing the heritage of the production of the iconic Spitfire in Southampton, which changed the course of the Second World War.
Out of the Shadows aims to enable local people to discover the extraordinary and little known story of how local people built Spitfires in Southampton at a time of great need for the country during the Second World War, despite the factory at Woolston being destroyed. The project will deliver living history re-enactments into local schools, heritage bus tours, heritage training for teachers and volunteers and mobile heritage gathering stations and oral history collation. The project will be delivered in partnership with the local heritage aviation community, volunteers and the communities of Southampton.
In September 1940 two daylight raids of Southampton by the Luftwaffe, targeted the Supermarine Factory at Woolston and bombed it out of practical use. Bus stations, garages, workshop and launderettes were requisitioned as make shift ‘Shadow Factories’ to continue manufacture of the Spitfire. 3000 women, girls and men learned complicated craftsmanship in order to keep the Spitfire in production. They helped build 8000 thousand Spitfires.
NST is one of the UK’s leading professional theatre companies creating fresh, vital theatrical experiences that connect communities. NST is a major cultural force in Southampton that currently works with over 17,000 people through a programme of creative activities, Youth Theatre and Drama Club, adult workshops and community projects.
Sam Hodges, Director at NST said, “We are thrilled to have received support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident our project will make a lasting difference, reconnecting Southampton with its own story of building the Spitfire. By gathering new stories, creating new legacies and archives in an interactive way, Out of the Shadows will inspire new generations to the story of how the people of Southampton came together as a community and can do so again.
Lucy Robinson, Grants Officer , HLF said, “We’re delighted to support Nuffield Southampton Theatres to celebrate the heritage of the Spitfires of Southampton in the Second World War. Thanks to National Lottery players, local people will explore and play a part in preserving an important part of the city’s history”
Out of the Shadows will also run alongside NST’s inaugural world premiere production The Shadow Factory (7 Feb – 3 Mar) which will open Southampton’s new city centre theatre, NST City.