Sheppard family sell rare jet to secure future of store

Andrew Sheppard, the plane's owner, talks about how it came into his family's possession.

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A rare RAF jet which has been outside a family business in Herefordshire for more than 40 years, is up for sale to help secure the future of a shop.

The Supermarine Swift F4. WK 275, at Sheppards Stores in Upper Hill near Leominster, is priced at £250,000.

Andy Sheppard said they would be upset to sell the jet, which was bought in 1968 by his grandfather.

His wife Karen said they were finding the current economic climate "very difficult" and the money would help.

The family said it had not been an easy decision to part with the aircraft.

Mr Sheppard, 47, said the jet had been a tourist attraction over the years, but it also needed a good home because it was "crumbling away".

Air speed record

"It's just losing value sat there," he said.

Nick Sturgess, a curator at RAF Museum Cosford, said the Swift was a swept wing fighter type plane, built by Supermarine in the 1950s as their version of the Hawker Hunter.

In the end he said the plane was "dogged" with problems and few had survived into preservation.

He said a complete Swift was rare.

In 1953 Mike Lithgow became the holder of the absolute flight air speed record flying a Supermarine Swift F4.

Part of that jet is on show at Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

A complete Supermarine Swift F5 is on show at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum in Sussex.

Mrs Sheppard said: "No other shop in the middle of the countryside would have a Supermarine Swift to greet you at the car park.

"We have seen probably thousands of people from all walks of life stop and have a look at the aircraft."

According to the family, Andy Sheppard's grandfather, Percival, bought the jet when he worked at the Gloster Aircraft Company.

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