Local Person, Derek Freeman
An extraordinary local gentleman who has dedicated years to creating exquisite model planes…
Seventy-four year old, Derek Freeman, moved to Felixstowe on his birthday, on May 8th 1945. His fascination with plane modelling began when he was just six years old when he made his first model plane with a piece of kindling wood and a pen knife.
Over the years, Derek has made more than two-thousand models, four-hundred of which are WW2 aircraft.
Together with his wife, Derek sold craft items (including handmade, wooden dolls’ houses, trains and toys) in a shop at the bottom of Bent Hill. At that time, Derek built a Noah Ark for a gentleman in America and a B17 aircraft which the customer’s father piloted. It was made out of solid mahogany with brass inlay and brass propellers. We got to see a similar model. ‘Stunning’ doesn’t cut it for an adequate description! (see image second above).
Someone from the craft shop heard about these models and gave Derek photos to work from to make more. Derek ended up making seventy of them! Later, he found out about the Felixstowe Air Station and a list of all the aircraft that came through Felixstowe. From this list, Derek began to make a collection to include all the flying boats and sea planes that entered the town.
Derek has sold hundreds of his models, but now at home where his workshop is, he is working on a private collection which he hopes to complete: a total of three-hundred planes specifically tested in Felixstowe’s dock area.
Since Derek’s beloved wife passed away four years ago, making these models has kept him busy and out of trouble, and in a profoundly philisophical statement, Derek says,
“I really enjoy it as it’s a challenge to make something
out of nothing.”
Incredibly, Derek’s models are mainly made from old door frames, window frames, scrap timber, bits of wire, recycled plastic, drain pipes, bristles from a broom; everthing is recycled. Some models take a month, some three months, depending on the size and complexity. Each model is made based on photos of planes and drawings, and so, the ability to replicate the details depends entirely on the quality of the photos used.
Every model is proportioned from six feet to the inch so you can have a good idea of the comparative size of each plane in real life. Seeing these in the flesh is remarkable!
Though some sea-planes and aircraft that were tested at the Felixstowe Air Station were made in America, most were UK built. Felixstowe even built it’s very own series of planes; the Felixstowe F1-F5!
Derek is an incredibly gifted man and is happy to show his planes to anyone who is interested to see them or learn the craft. To get in touch call Derek on 210778.
We highly recommend a visit!