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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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New threat facing our last line of defence

A LAST remnant of Whitehaven’s wartime history may be under threat as the demolition of the town’s bus station gets under way.

pillbox
Home front: The former pill-box above Whitehaven Bus Station

By Margaret Crosby

The 1940s machine-gun pill-box sits behind the bus station, below Herbert Hill (Wellington Row) on an overgrown stretch of land.

The land belongs to the owners of the bus station site, which is being cleared. It seems they are happy to leave the pill-box in situ for now and reconsider its future as and when a redevelopment plan is presented.

Had Whitehaven faced a foreign aggressor during World War Two, the boys of the Home Guard would doubtless have been quick sticks up there to man the pill-box with their guns and brave hearts at the ready. Thankfully, for this town, it never came to that.

About 28,000 pill-boxes and other field fortifications were constructed in England in 1940 as part of the British anti-invasion preparations. Around 6,500 of these structures still survive and some are scheduled monuments.

Air raid shelters were designated in the cellars of the Co-op on Duke Street/Tangier Street corner and at the Knowles and Fiddler warehouse in Preston Street. Fisher’s shop on the corner of Duke Street/Senhouse Street became the ARP headquarters.

English Heritage was interested in listing some types of defence infrastructure as part of the Defence of Britain project under the Council for British Archaeology. However, it stopped recording ‘finds’ in 2002.

Have your say

This maybe something that the CBCDT (Copeland Borough Council Demolition Team) may like to get involved with.,

Posted by Davedee on 29 March 2014 at 19:05

It would be a shame if this little structure, defence against an enemy so vile as is hard for the younger generation to imagine, and as valid in the eyes of some as medieval castles and Roman forts, were demolished without a thorough survey and photographic record to see if it were a unique form of pill-box.

It looks like a variation on a type F/W (Fortifications and Works) 23, which were common enough, but that's not to say it isn't unique.

Whitehaven's more prominent defences against Hitler, the 422nd Coast Battery of the 561st Coast Regiment R.A atop and below Bransty cliffs was demolished thirty years ago without any thought to documentation or preservation for future generations: understandable, perhaps, by those who had seen war first-hand and wanted to be rid of it.

Now that this last bastion against tyranny and oppression that once threatened our country has come to light, then more should be made of it for the sake of those who take for granted the freedom and liberty our forebears once stood to defend a very short while ago.

Posted by Russell Barnes on 29 March 2014 at 14:40

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