History: The Spitfire Bridge

Winston Bridge – A feat to remember

As part of our website we are celebrating fantastic local history and bringing to life the past of the area, and joining it with the present.

Here is a clip of some drone footage taken of what is described by Michael Baldwin as the ‘Spitfire Bridge’. When watching the video, I noticed that Michael had dedicated the video to his Dad and had a lovely picture of his Dad standing next to the bronze Spitfire. At this point I decided to track Michael down and found that he was now living in Australia, an amateur photographer and videographer – and asked him why he had taken this drone footage and especially why it was special to him and dedicating his footage to his Dad. I was very grateful for Michael for his honest and meaningful reply and allowing us to publish it along with his drone footage on our website and social media channels.

Here are Michaels replies to our questions:

It is interesting, if I had replied straight away, the video would have seemed like something I just did, but having had time to think about it and how it all fit together, it really was a jigsaw of sorts with all the various parts coming together to form the whole.

First off, the Spitfire – the romantic sight and sound of a Spitfire has been with me since childhood – reading “Commando” comic books and making airfix models – the sense of achievement with the final step of applying the roundel sticker (after first soaking in warm water to remove the backing paper) to the wing without messing up was huge. While talking about doing the video, my Dad told me of a full size model Spitfire in the middle of a roundabout at Thornaby, where there was a Spitfire base during WWII – so that was another photo opportunity.

Now to Winston Bridge – my Dad (Jim Baldwin) crossed Winston Bridge on a daily basis on his way to work at his brother’s (Cecil Baldwin) garage called Fairview Garage just outside of Ovington. During my formative years, I would go to work with my Dad on a Sunday – more to give my Mam a break, so I too would cross the bridge and spend time with my Dad in that area – they used to do a lot of Combine Harvesting, so I would be hidden in the hopper as the machines were driven / delivered around the area. I asked my Dad for a fun fact and he said the men who built the bridge built themselves a house to live in while building the bridge, which later became a Pub. My cousin was married in Winston Church too, so again, the area was key to my growing up.

I moved to Australia 30 years ago, and I saw on an episode of Foyle’s War which aired here that his son, a Spitfire pilot in the series, flew under Winston Bridge – which made it especially relevant knowing the bridge etc. When I put my video together, I tried to find the Foyle’s War clip but couldn’t find it anywhere but was lucky to find the clip of Ray’s daring do.

The video itself really came out of taking up drone flying and remembering the flight under the bridge from Foyle’s War – so, on a visit to see my Mam and Dad I decided to give it a go. It was so cold that morning I could barely hold the drone controller, it was also dark on the river itself but as the sun came out the colour in the surrounding trees looked gorgeous. It is really quite amazing, most of my videos, I’m lucky to get “views” into double figures – at which point I’m out buying a director’s chair and stencilling my name on the back – but with my DJI Spitfire video – the last time I checked it was over 80,000 views! I am not so naive as to think they are watching because of my Drone skills and it really echoes my opening statements about the romance of the Spitfire is still immensely strong today.

You also asked why I dedicated the video to my Dad and really it was about the change – all the times I’d been to and/or over Winston Bridge it was me going with my Dad, yet this time, he went to the bridge with me – which gave it a significance I’d never thought of previously. We were back in the car trying to warm up but just before we left, I asked him to stand by the Spitfire model so I could take his photo, which was also wrapped around how each of my trips back to England may be the last time I see him and/or my Mam and since then we have had the Covid pandemic so have not been able to come back regardless – which makes the dedication even more poignant.

Hopefully, the above is not boring or meaningless, but digging deeper I found that there was much more to the whole video shoot and processing that I first imagined.

Kind regards

Michael

Thank you, Michael. We hope that you pop and see us when you are back at Winston.

Written by Paula Kirkup

Paula is a member of St Andrew's PCC at Winston and leads our Care for Creation Projects, as well as being an online Editor.

April 24, 2022

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