Coffee table made from Second World War Spitfire engine

TABLE TORQUE Stephen Brownlie, Fareham Innovation Centre senior manager
TABLE TORQUE Stephen Brownlie, Fareham Innovation Centre senior manager
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Part of a powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin XX aircraft engine, from a Supermarine Spitfire which flew in the Second World War, has been transformed into a striking glass-top coffee table at newly-launched Fareham Innovation Centre.

Commissioned by centre operator Oxford Innovation, the conversational £6,000 piece has pride of place in the reception area of purpose-built Merlin House, which has 24 serviced offices and 15 workshops.

The feature, as well as being a talking point for customers and visitors, symbolises British engineering excellence and, because of its wartime Spitfire connections, is a poignant reminder of how technology can turn the tide of history.

The XX, with 12 cylinders packing a punch at 1,490 horsepower, first went into production in July 1940 and was fitted into iconic Battle of Britain planes, such as the 355mph Spitfire, Halifax, Hurricane and Lancaster.

Fareham Innovation Centre, which is already nearly 40 per cent occupied after opening in April, is by the Daedalus airfield, Lee-on-the-Solent, within the South’s only designated enterprise zone.

Stephen Brownlie, senior centre manager, said: ‘Solent Enterprise Zone is creating an advanced manufacturing and engineering hub here in southern England, with our centre playing a strong role in supporting start-up and early-stage firms.

‘Given the proximity of the former military airport, the focus on technology in the enterprise zone and the name of our centre, we felt it appropriate to celebrate Britain’s aviation expertise with the engine display.

‘The feature, as well as being a talking point for customers and visitors, symbolises British engineering excellence and, because of its wartime Spitfire connections, is a poignant reminder of how technology can turn the tide of history.’

This month marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In the summer of 1940, around 3,000 RAF fighter pilots fought in the skies above the south coast against Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe air force, with 544 losing their lives.

Their bravery set the nation on course to ultimate victory.

Ursh Stevens, founder of Cumbria-based Refunk’d, was commissioned by Oxford Innovation to upcycle the aircraft engine, sourced from Spitfire Spares, a Second World War aviation specialist.

She said: ‘The engine, comprising the crankcase, which I painted in pink to resonate with the brand colours of Fareham Innovation Centre, a set of bores and two cylinder heads, arrived as a pile of scrap. Luckily, I have a good welder in my boyfriend Nick Pinnell.

‘It is one of the most unusual commissions I’ve done and I was conscious of working on a piece of military history.’