HISTORY buffs got up close with a replica First World War plane as part of an event marking the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.

A Sopwith Pup, a single-seater fighter plane, featured in a jam-packed exhibition on Southend Pier.

The biplane on display carried the colours and serial number of Claude Ridley, 1st Commanding Officer of B Flight, 37 Home Defence Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, who flew the aircraft over Southend on July 7, 1917, when intercepting a German raid making its way back along the Thames from London.

The full-scale replica was built in the Seventies for the BBC TV series Wings.

The exhibition, which attracted visitors of all ages, also featured photographs and memorabilia showing how Southend was defended from the air during the blitz.

The centenary event ended with a flypast of Twenties “Gypsy Moth” biplanes on Sunday afternoon, after a parade by veterans and military personnel and a special service remembering those who lost their lives during First World War.