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Planting project commemorates village’s wartime links

Mature students at Derby College Group’s Broomfield Hall have designed and planted a flowerbed in Horsley Woodhouse to commemorate the important role that the village played in World War Two.

Horsley Woodhouse was home to three factories which were opened at the beginning of the war following concerns that the main Rolls-Royce factory in Derby would be targeted by German bombers.

Initially, old and damaged RAF engines came to the village’s factory to be stripped and sent for scrap before two of the sites were charged with inspecting Merlin engine parts which powered the iconic spitfire planes. A third factory was involved in the building of a new tank engine for the Army.

Keen to showcase this wartime link, Horsley Parish Council contacted the Horticulture team at Broomfield Hall to create a planted memorial which has recently been completed.

The part time students, who are all studying for the RHS level two qualification, and teacher Mike Baldwin, have created a circular red, white and blue flowerbed with the outline of a spitfire aeroplane at the centre.

Local historian Don Barham explained: “The locals nicknamed the operation the “Spitfire” factories as the Spit had become the iconic fighter of the RAF after its victories in the Battle of Britain during the summer of 1940.

“The name stuck and has always been associated with these sites in the village so it is very appropriate that we have something to commemorate them.”

Parish Council clerk Kay Richardson added: “We have had some great feedback about the flowerbed and look forward to it becoming more established in future years.”

One of the mature students involved, Cath Davison from Littleover, said: “I didn’t know I had such a passion for gardening until lockdown so enrolled on this course to develop my knowledge.

“It has been great to work on a live project and to put something back into a local community.”