NOSTALGIA: WWII propeller blades conserved by West Dean College students

West Dean College students have been working on conserving a rare set of WWII propeller blades.

Thursday, 18th May 2017, 4:57 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:10 am
West Dean College students at work

The propellers are thought to have been used with the legendary Lancaster, a Spitfire or anything with a Merlin engine.

Belonging to the Tangmere Aviation Museum, the 6 ft tall blades were discovered in the late 80s when they were dug up locally to the museum, almost 40 years after the Tangmere airfield was badly hit in an enemy air raid.

The Propellers recently made their way to West Dean College to undergo an extensive course of conservation.

The propellers are thought to have been used with the legendary Lancaster, a Spitfire or anything with a Merlin engine

West Dean is internationally acclaimed for excellence in conservation and offers an array of courses, both short and full time.

The project poses a rare and exciting opportunity for the Conservation department at West Dean College as very few of these propellers are still in use.

Jason Riches, curator at the Tangmere Aviation Museum said: There are only 25 Spitfires and two Lancaster aircrafts in the world still flying today.”

Norbert Gutowski, programme tutor for Conservation of Furniture and Related Objects, who is leading the project, has said: “To have any propellers for conservation here at West Dean is very exciting and quite out of the ordinary to what we normally accept and treat”.

The rare set of WWII propeller blades

The treatment goal is to ensure all components of the propellers are restored to a level of museum quality, with hope of going on display at Tangmere later this year.

They also aim to discover how and why these blades survived so well, despite being buried for 40 years.

Find out more about West Dean College by visiting the website at

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Working on the blades

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