A HAWKER Hunter that had been displayed in Woking town centre for 22 years has been taken down for restoration but will not return to its adoptive home. The Hunter T.7, XL623, was removed from its 33ft (10m) plinth in Crown Square, Woking, for restoration work and has been moved to Dunsfold Park. The 1959-built trainer has been a long-serving local landmark but its owner, Woking Borough Council, has opted to gift the jet to the Hawker Association after being advised to remove it for health and safety reasons.
However, while the popular jet will not return to its former location, local reports suggest that XL623 will remain in the county after its overhaul – though this is yet to be announced – and work is expected to have been completed by late 2019. Cllr Ayesha Azad, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Asset Management, said: “Our ‘plane on a pole’ has provided Woking’s residents with many years of joy, as well as visitors with a fair amount of surprise when they first stumble across it. However, we are aware that being out in the elements for so long will have taken its toll on the aeroplane and, although we were assured that there was no immediate risk, it was important to act on health and safety advice given about its future stability and bring it down before it suffers too much more wear and tear.
“Now it is time to hand the duty of care for the aeroplane to aviation experts who will be able to preserve it for future generations to enjoy and learn from.”