Ballymena Spitfire: Mural of iconic warplane unveiled in Drumtara
Ballymena has a new mural recognising the collective efforts of local people during WWII, when they pulled together to raise money for a Spitfire fund, thanks to a Housing Executive community cohesion grant of almost £5,000.
The mural in Drumtara features the iconic aircraft, figures depicting Royal Air Force personnel, and the RAF’s badge with the motto 'Per ardua ad astra' which translates from Latin to ‘through adversity to the stars.’
Seven Towers Community Association carried out the re-imaging project at the site after the old WWI mural deteriorated.
Belfast Telegraph’s Spitfire fund raised an impressive £88,633 16s 5d, the equivalent of about £2.9m in today’s money, as part of a UK-wide fund-raising effort in 1940. It was enough to buy 17 Spitfires used by the RAF during WWII.
Northern Ireland's twelfth Spitfire, which had the serial number P7835 ZF-S, was named Ballymena in tribute to the local people who donated to the fund.
The other 16 planes, Aldergrove, Antrim, Armagh, Bangor, Belfast, City of Derry, Down, Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Harlandic, Larne, Londonderry, Mid-Ulster, Mountains O'Mourne, Portadown and Tyrone, were named in recognition of similar fund-raising efforts.
Ballymena flew with many RAF squadrons but went missing over France on July 24, 1941. The Polish pilot Józef Czachowski is believed to have been killed by enemy action.
It was one of 20,000 Supermarine Spitfires that were produced during the war and the aircraft remained in production throughout WWII and until 1948.
It is hoped the mural will improve the look of the site while also bringing the community closer together.
Seven Towers Community Association’s chairperson Tam Balmer said: “The mural has an immediate impact on the visual appeal of the area, enhancing it and instilling a sense of pride among the residents.
“Additionally, the project aims to foster a strong sense of community spirit and encourage conversations around the themes of shared sacrifice, progress, and cultural expression.
“This mural serves as a reminder of the collective efforts made by people in the past to defeat fascism and achieve greatness through collaboration, inspiring people to work together towards a better future.
“Thank you to the Housing Executive for all the help and funding to make this possible.”
Housing Executive Good Relations Officer John Read said: “We are thrilled with the artist's work and the successful outcome of this re-imaging project.
“The Spitfire is iconic and the mural recalls a time when the community rallied together for the common good.
“Seven Towers Community Association has done a sterling job in making the mural happen and feedback from the residents has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We take pride in supporting projects that improve areas and promote community cohesion.”