Crowds flock to see two First World War fighter planes on display in city centre

Caption: (Right of propeller) - The Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Thomas Murray, Cllr Graham Hyde (Leeds City Council’s chair of the armed forces member champion group), James Rogers, (Leeds City Council’s assistant chief executive), and the Lady Mayoress Edna Murray, are joined by the live re-enactors and the Eastchurch Kitten plane.

An exhibition of two First World War bi-planes in the heart of Leeds city centre proved to be a bit hit with visitors this week.

In a unique event, an RAF built example of a 1914 BE2c fighter and a recently restored replica 1917 PV8 Eastchurch Kitten from the Yorkshire Air Museum Collection at Elvington, were displayed on Victoria Gardens outside Leeds Art Gallery. Included on the day was also the chance for visitors to hear sounds not heard for almost 100 years, as a live engine run of the Eastchurch Kitten was undertaken on each hour.

Also featuring in the exhibition were live re-enactors representing men and women who fought through the war, who were also on hand to talk to visitors, passers-by and school children throughout the event.

The 1914 BE2c fighters were part of the first three Royal Flying Corps Squadrons sent to France at the outbreak of the war. Many of the aircraft were built under licence by the Blackburn Aircraft Company in Leeds and the plane exhibited outside the art gallery will carry the famous 1914 Blackburn Logo. The 1917 PV78 Eastchurch Kitten was a very tiny aircraft, intended to be launched from ships in the English Channel to intercept Zeppelin airships making their way to British town and cities. Only one Eastchurch Kitten was ever built, and it was later withdrawn as its design was not considered suitable.

This display formed part of the city’s centenary commemoration of the First World War, which began in August 1914.

For more information on Leeds Museums and Galleries First World War Programme, please see: www.leeds.gov.uk/ww1heritage

Further details regarding the Yorkshire Air Museum can be found at: http://www.yorkshireairmuseum.org/

Councillor Graham Hyde, Leeds City Council’s chair of the armed forces member champion group said:

"It was a truly unforgettable experience to see two First World War bi-planes exhibited outside the Leeds Art Gallery and to be given an opportunity to hear a live engine run of the Eastchurch Kitten.

"We feel extremely proud and privileged as a city to have hosted this exhibition, and we would like to thank the Yorkshire Air Museum for their efforts in making this memorable event, which forms part of their commemoration of the First World War, a reality."

Notes to editors:

For more information on the global commemoration of the First World War Centenary, please see the Imperial War Museums website at: http://www.1914.org/ or the University of Leeds: www.arts.leeds.ac.uk/legaciesofwar

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk