Reginald Mitchell project

Watch Haywood Academy students in action by clicking here.

Mitchell Arts Centre is to open a new exhibition celebrating the life and legacy of one of the region’s most influential engineers.

The permanent display R.J.Mitchell: Life in the Clouds opens to the public on 22 April 2016. The outcome of a Heritage Lottery Funded: Sharing Heritage project; it has seen students from Haywood Academy, Burslem work with museum professionals to research and tell Mitchell’s story. The exhibition explores Mitchell’s life, his iconic design and the theatre’s link to Mitchell.

A highlight of the display is the range of Spitfire parts and other historic items which have been kindly loaned by Burslem’s Supermarine Aero Engineering Ltd.

The year 7 and 8 students worked with Curator Paula Kovacs to uncover Mitchell’s story, with students deciding what information should be included in the exhibition, researching design ideas and helping to create marketing materials.

The group also worked with Professor Ray Johnson from the Staffordshire Film Archive to make a documentary film, which will be shown in the exhibition and explores Mitchell’s influence on young people today.

In addition, a collection of historical documents and objects which were uncovered at Mitchell Arts Centre have been documented to create a database for researchers; and a new education pack has been created for teachers to use in the classroom.

A special Mitchell Map will be installed on the wall in between the Arts Centre and Tesco Extra, Hanley. Funded by Operation Spitfire, it hopes to encourage the public to explore places connected to Mitchell in the area.

Matthew Baillie, Excellence Academy Lead at Haywood Academy said: “This project has been a fantastic opportunity for some of our students to learn more about our local history and the work that is involved in curating an exhibition, our students are looking forward to attending the private view a celebration of all their hard work”.

Sir Brian Fender, Chairman, Mitchell Arts Centre said: “Mitchell’s story is one which continues to fascinate and inspire, by providing a resource developed with young people we hope to support the ambitions of the next generation of young designers, engineers and inventors in Staffordshire and beyond.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage. Heritage means such different things to different people, and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.”

The learning resource pack will be available to download from

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