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News

  • Wednesday, October 9, 2019

    National Grid IFA2 and the Fairey Barracuda story

    A rare World War 2 Barracuda bomber was discovered during work to prepare the route for HVAC cables between Monks Hill Beach and Chilling, as part of the construction of the IFA2 electricity interconnector between the UK and France. It is the most complete example in existence and is proving invaluable in Fleet Air Arm’s project to create a unique replica. Dave Morris, Curator of Aircraft at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, will speak about the work he is doing to preserve the salvaged aircraft.

    A rare World War 2 Barracuda bomber was discovered during work to prepare the route for HVAC cables between Monks Hill Beach and Chilling, as part of the construction of the IFA2 electricity interconnector between the UK and France. It is the most complete example in existence and is proving invaluable in Fleet Air Arm’s project to create a unique replica. Dave Morris, Curator of Aircraft at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, will speak about the work he is doing to preserve the salvaged aircraft.

    Where: The Bridge conference room, Fareham Innovation Centre, Merlin House, 4 Meteor Way, Lee-on-the-Solent, PO13 9FU
    When: Tuesday 29 October 2019
    Time: 1845 until approximately 2030


    Please go online to reserve your place as seating is limited.

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  • Wednesday, July 31, 2019

    Our fossil heritage revealed

    Fossils estimated to be 40 to 45 million years old are being revealed on Monks Hill beach as IFA2 excavates cable ducts for the interconnector project to link the electricity transmission systems of GB and France.

    Fossils estimated to be 40 to 45 million years old are being revealed on Monks Hill beach as IFA2 excavates cable ducts for the interconnector project to link the electricity transmission systems of GB and France.

    The construction site on Monks Hill Beach has brought an unexpected benefit for local resident and amateur palaeontologist Linda Gardner.

    Linda, from Titchfield, has collected fossils around the world all her life. Monks Hill Beach is one of her favourite sites and she has had fossil finds there including shark, ray, swordfish, turtle and many more over the years.

    Linda brought her extensive fossil collection down to the beach to share with geological consultant Dr Andy King (from Geckoella Ltd) and Dr Dave Evans (from Natural England) who are overseeing the excavation works and who were able to share recent finds with her – including two excellently preserved fossil bivalve shells (called Venericor and Glycymeris), estimated to be 42 million years old.

    Linda said: “The excavation works are turning up material from depths below low tide that would otherwise be inaccessible. It’s a very exciting opportunity to find fossils that would otherwise never be discovered.”

    The excavations pass through clays and silts that represent the Bracklesham Formation. These were formed during the Eocene Period of geological time (56 to 33 million years ago) when mammals evolved from small, simple forms into a large group of diverse animals and the seas were full of marine life including sharks, rays, fish and a huge variety of shells.

    Dave Evans said: “This coast is a Site of Special Interest and is nationally important for its geology and fossils. Natural England wanted to ensure that the beach works provided an opportunity to gain more scientific information about the geology of this site fossils were recovered from the temporary excavations. These fossils and the accompanying data collected by Andy and his team will be deposited in museum collections and available for future research.”

    According to Andy, as part of the Geological Clerk of Works role, “arrangements are also being made during the excavation of the second trench in the autumn for local geologists such as Linda and the Tertiary Research Group to briefly visit the site. They will also have an opportunity to collect samples from a specially arranged rock pile located safely away from the main excavations”.  

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  • Monday, June 10, 2019

    Lost WW2 aircraft lifted from sea after more than 75 years

    A WW2 plane which crashed into the sea more than 75 years ago has been lifted from the Solent.

    This week, specialist divers and archaeologists completed an operation to retrieve the wreckage of a 1943 Fairey Barracuda Torpedo Bomber (believed to be No. BV739) - just in time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

    The three-seater plane, part of 810 Squadron Royal Navy Air Station, based at Lee-On-Solent is believed to have got into difficulty shortly after taking off for its test flight before crashing 500m from the coast in Portsmouth.

    The Barracuda wreckage is the only one to have ever been found in one piece and the last remaining aircraft of its kind in the UK.

    David Luetchford, Head of IFA2 for National Grid said: “Interconnectors are about bringing us closer to a zero-carbon future, but we must also respect the past. An important part of our job is to always have a thorough and sympathetic approach to archaeological finds. Over the course of the project we’ve inspected over 1,000 targets of interest, many of which were found to be unexploded ordnance, not unusual given the history of this location. However, to have found a 1943 Fairey Barracuda torpedo bomber is incredible and such a key piece of British history.

    It’s not every day you get the chance to play a role in an operation like this and it is very lucky to have found the plane in such a small search area. We surveyed a 180-metre-wide area along the cable route and if we had chosen a slightly different route, there is a good chance the plane would never have been found.”

    Work to fully retrieve the plane started on the 23rd May is expected to take around three weeks in total as experts from Wessex Archaeology are carefully excavating the area around the aircraft and removing large amounts of silt and clay.

    So far, both wings have successfully been lifted out of the waters and the remainder of the plane will be recovered by lifting it in sections over the coming days.

     “The recovery of the Fairey Barracuda will aid an ongoing Fleet Air Arm Museum project to recreate what will be the world’s only complete example of this type of aircraft. This will give us a chance to examine a unique lost piece of aviation history”.

    Once retrieved, the parts will be taken to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset where it will be studied and used to rebuild a full-size Barracuda in the site’s aircraft hangar.

    David Morris, Curator at The National Museum of the Royal Navy has been working on the project for several years and visited four other Barracuda crash sites to retrieve suitable parts.

    He said: “This is an incredible find and a wonderful piece of British history. There are very few blueprints of the Barracuda plane design available so this wreckage will be studied to enable us to see how the plane segments fitted together and how we can use some of the parts we currently have.

    “This find is a huge step forward for our project and we can’t wait to get it back to the museum and share our findings with the public.”

    The plane’s pilot has been named as SUB LNT DJ Williams who managed to escape the crash and survived WW2.

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