Historian throws his weight behind campaign to save town’s Second World War Pill Box

St Neots Pill Box, (l-r) Chairman of the Trustees at St Neots Museum Peter Ibbett, Mayor Derek Giles

St Neots Pill Box, (l-r) Chairman of the Trustees at St Neots Museum Peter Ibbett, Mayor Derek Giles, and Dr Mike Osborne. - Credit: Archant

A leading historian has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save an historic Second World War pill box in St Neots.

Dr Mike Osborne met with town mayor, Cllr Derek Giles, and deputy mayor, Cllr Barry Chapman, on Tuesday to view the F22 pill box behind the former youth centre in Priory Road. A social media campaign was launched last month when town councillors learned of a planning application, which places the pill box behind a fence in one of the gardens, to build 14 houses on the site.

Dr Osborne, the author of 20 military books and a former coordinator with the Defence of Britain Project, said: “The Second World War pillbox on the edge of the Common remains one of the few surviving local structures from a time of national emergency.

“In itself it may appear insignificant, but it represents an event of evident significance for many people locally, and should continue to do so for generations to come.

“In the Huntingdon area alone, one need look no further than the recently demolished militia barracks and the clearance of most of RAF Alconbury. In a hundred years time there could be little left to mark ‘their finest hour’. I gather that the local inhabitants of St Neots want not only to preserve their historic pillbox but to be able to see it, not hidden behind a garden wall and subject to the whim of the free-holder. I hope that we will find a way of making this possible.”

The pill box is thought to be one of about 1,000 to have survived the war. In 1940, Churchill appointed General William Ironside to draw up a final defence line of Britain and 28,000 pill boxes were built close to coastlines, waterways and railways. They were manned with troops from the Home Guard who were armed with machine guns to provide a last line of defence.

St Neots Town Council has made an application to list the pill box as an Asset of Community value.