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Table torque for Second World War aircraft engine

Part of a powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin XX aircraft engine, from a Supermarine Spitfire which flew in the Second World War, has been transformed into a striking glass-top coffee table at newly-launched Fareham Innovation Centre, near Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Commissioned by centre operator Oxford Innovation, the conversational £6,000 piece has pride of place in the reception area of purpose-built Merlin House, which has 24 serviced offices and 15 workshops.TABLE TORQUE: Part of a powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin XX aircraft engine from the Second World War has been transformed into a striking glass-top coffee table at the reception of the new Fareham Innovation Centre, run by Oxford Innovation. Pictured above is Stephen Brownlie, senior centre manager.

The XX, with 12 cylinders packing a punch at 1,490hp, first went into production in July 1940 and was fitted into iconic 'Battle of Britain' planes such as the 355-mph Spitfire, Halifax, Hurricane and Lancaster. Fareham Innovation Centre, which is already nearly 40% occupied after opening in April, is by the Daedalus airfield, Lee-on-the-Solent, within the South's only designated enterprise zone. 

There are 100% business rate discounts for five years; there is available space from 200 sq ft to 800 sq ft for between one to 10 people. Stephen Brownlie, senior centre manager, said: "Solent Enterprise Zone is creating an advanced manufacturing and engineering hub here in southern England, with our centre playing a strong role in supporting start-up and early-stage firms". "Given the proximity of the former military airport, the focus on technology in the enterprise zone and the name of our centre, we felt it appropriate to celebrate Britain's aviation expertise with the engine display". "The feature, as well as being a talking point for customers and visitors, symbolises British engineering excellence and, because of its wartime Spitfire connections, is a poignant reminder of how technology can turn the tide of history."Picture above: The Merlin XX aircraft engine used to produce the table

This month [July 12] marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In the summer of 1940, around 3,000 RAF fighter pilots fought in the skies above the South Coast against Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe air force, with 544 losing their lives. Their bravery set the nation on course to ultimate victory. Spitfires were manufactured 14 miles away in Southampton, with the facilities repeatedly targeted by German bombers in deadly raids. 

The £5.3m Fareham Innovation Centre, which is owned by Fareham Borough Council, also has links with Fareham College's new Centre of Excellence in Engineering & Manufacturing Advanced Skills Training, sited on the other side of the road. CEMAST is the main learning centre for more than 900 students in apprenticeship programmes, with partner companies such as BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Virgin Atlantic, Burgess Marine and Jensen Motorsport. Ursh Stevens, founder of Cumbria-based Refunk'd, was commissioned by Oxford Innovation to upcycle the aircraft engine, sourced from Spitfire Spares, a Second World War aviation specialist. 

Picture above: The table designed by Ursh Stevens

In keeping with the flight theme, Ursh used to crew on long-haul flights for British Airways before her junk upcycling hobby evolved into a business, creating bespoke pieces for corporate and private clients. Last year the venture was chosen by entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, from BBC2's Dragons' Den, to be one of his SBS (Small Business Sunday) winners. Ursh said: "The engine, comprising the crankcase, which I painted in pink to resonate with the brand colours of Fareham Innovation Centre, a set of bores and two cylinder heads, arrived as a pile of scrap. Luckily, I have a good welder in my boyfriend Nick Pinnell.  "It is one of the most unusual commissions I've done and I was conscious of working on a piece of military history. I tweeted the picture to Theo, who said he loved it."  Earlier this month [July] the management contract for the innovation centre was signed on the newly-installed coffee table. 

Oxford Innovation runs 20 similar centres, including Portsmouth Technopole and Ocean Village Innovation Centre in Southampton.