Contact BSSA

WEC Group Ltd Spitfire Borough of Darwen Memorial Launch

04 Apr 2013

At 12pm on Saturday 10th November and in time for Remembrance Day 2012, WEC Group Ltd unveiled the much anticipated Darwen Spitfire memorial sculpture at ‘The Green’, Darwen. The new stainless steel sculpture was successfully installed on the traffic island outside the White Lion Pub and the Leisure Centre a couple of days previously.


Over recent years WEC Group has adopted a habit of annually accepting projects free of charge from local authorities, provided the work completed will in some way benefit or be used by the local community. The decision has come from WEC’s commitment to support and give back to the Darwen area, which is home to the companies many successes since it started trading in 1979.

Darwen was the smallest town in the UK to finance a spitfire during WWII, and the Spitfire memorial will be a lasting reminder of the Towns contribution to the War Effort. The sculpture has taken two years to complete; and costing around £175k has been 100% funded, manufactured and donated by the WEC Group to the people of Darwen. The motivation behind the donation is to recognise and remember the massive contribution the people of Darwen made when they managed to raise the cost to purchase a spitfire for use in the WWII R.A.F. The 3:1 ratio stainless steel sculpture, with a wing span measuring 3.8 meters and standing 6.9 meters high has been hand crafted by WEC Group’s own apprentices;

Steve Hartley, managing director of WEC Group comments:

“The apprentices working on the memorial have learned and practised many invaluable skills, the opportunity for apprentices to be so heavily involved in projects such as this will help them become first class engineers, and provide them with life-long skills and trades”.

WEC Group, one of the largest employers in Darwen continually strives to keep employment local and is committed to training and developing local youth to generate apprentices with all the skills and abilities required to work to the highest standards across the engineering sector. The academy has this year increased its enrolment from 10 to 15 new apprentices each year to begin the 5 year apprenticeship across various areas of the company, and over the two year manufacturing process the Spitfire has seen 20 apprentices contribute to the memorial.

Full time academy instructor Kris Mercer states:

“The WEC Group apprenticeship scheme is unparalleled in the training and development it delivers, and the opportunities it provides apprentices with are invaluable”

Other public donations which have been manufactured by the apprentices of WEC Group include the replacement Darwen Jubilee tower dome which was airlifted into place in January 13th 2012. And in 2013 apprentices are gearing up to manufacture ramps for a new skate park for Darwen Academy. The community projects manufactured and donated by WEC not only help give back to the local area, but also benefit the apprentices training at the Academy via providing the opportunity for them to learn and utilise skills such as welding, sheet metal fabrication, forming & folding and metal polishing.

With running costs incurred by the company of over 100k per annum the apprenticeship scheme is the only one of its kind in the UK, and with investment in training continually increasing WEC Group is clearly committed to investing in local individuals. Upon completion of the apprenticeship scheme, WEC academy graduates have the skills and qualifications required to carve out a successful career in engineering.

Steve Hartley, managing director of WEC Group states:

“By investing in local skills, WEC Group is securing a sustainable long-term competitive advantage, and contributing to growth in the local area”


Office and Postal Address: BSSA, HQ, Blades Enterprise Centre, John Street, Sheffield S2 4SW

Registered Office: Pegasus House, 463A Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2QD

Tel: +44 (0)114 292 2636    |     Email:

Copyright © 2018 British Stainless Steel Association

web design sheffield by Llama Digital