PLANS to erect a model Spitfire in Darwen have been given the green light by the council.

A call to erect a memorial to a Spitfire bought by the people of Darwen during the Second World War was made more than three years ago.

Metal fabrication firm WEC, of Junction Street in the town, offered to erect a replica model – one 12th the size — free of charge.

And now it is hoped the replica, planned to be sited at the traffic island between the A666, Borough Road, Green Street and Arch Street, will be unveiled at a ceremony later this year.

In September 1940, during the Second World War, a fund to buy a Spitfire for the RAF was launched in the town.

It was accepted into service the following March, but it was lost in July somewhere over France.

WEC marketing manager Jean Dziki said: “We were delighted to hear planning permission has been granted. Our apprentices have worked really hard on this for the past 18 months.

“The Spitfire is now about 95 per cent complete, with apprentices focusing on the outstanding parts including the nose cone, cockpit and propellers. We hope the memorial should be ready for installation by the autumn.

“There is a lot of anticipation here about the Spitfire as we are sure it will become a landmark that all Darreners can be proud of.”

Former Sunnyhurst councillor Tony Melia originally called for a permanent memorial to the town’s Spitfire, as reported in the Lancashire Telegraph in 2008. He said: “I am really pleased it has been approved. The apprentices did a smashing job and I can’t wait to see it up.”

At the time, chairman of the Darwen branch of the Royal British Legion, Brian Thompson, who has since died, said Darwen was the smallest town in the country to buy a Spitfire during the war.

Darwen Town Council deputy chairman Coun Trevor Maxfield said he was delighted.

He said: “I am glad it has finally gone through as it has been ongoing for about three years.

“For WEC to put so much money into the town with this project is great and I think they deserve a great deal of gratitude.

“It will be good for the town. People will say ‘that’s the place where the Spitfire is’.”