The Mayor of Chorley Cllr. Marion Lowe, local MP Lindsay Hoyle and army top brass were among VIPs who attended a special unveiling of a restored WW2 structure at Redrow’s Lucas Green development in Whittle-le-woods.
Together with the Mayor and MP, members of the 103 Regiment Royal Artillery turned out in full service dress, alongside Chorley Royal British Legion representatives, council members, Redrow staff and many of those connected to the restoration, to witness the results of the work carried out on the gun mounting and pill box.
The event was timed for the run up to Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day (November 11).
During the event, Capt Wayne Illingworth of the 103 Regiment RA read war poem ‘For the Fallen’ - written by Lancashire-born poet Robert Laurence Binyon - as a poppy wreath was laid.
Capt Illingworth said later: “I think it shows a really moral component from Redrow to do what they have done with this installation and not just cover it up. In doing so they have said ‘we will provide houses but we will also take care of the area’s history, restore it and commemorate it’. It will be a talking point for the people living in these houses and, hopefully, local school children will be able to visit and learn something about the history of World War 2 here on their doorstep and not far away.”
Steve Greenhalgh, managing director of Redrow Homes (Lancashire), said: “It was a real pleasure to show off the finished result of our restoration work of this important and historic monument in front of such esteemed guests. And while doing so, we could pay homage to those who have lost their lives in all wars.
“These light aircraft gun sites are rare, with only around 40 surviving of about 1,250 built in Britain, so we see it as a great privilege to have one as a special feature at Lucas Green.”
As part of the planning process, Redrow committed to retaining and enhancing the gun mounting so it could become a permanent feature of the landscape for years to come.
Rt Hon Lindsay Hoyle MP said: “ We are always quick to criticise housing developers but I would like to be the first to congratulate Redrow today for preserving a part of Chorley’s history that would otherwise have been lost – and not only preserving it but renovating it.”
And Mayor of Chorley, Cllr Marion Lowe added: “I think it is fantastic that in building these houses Redrow has restored this historic feature at the centre of the development and protected it for a very long time. So many of these pill boxes have been lost and only a very small percentage remain. I’m pleased that one of them is in Chorley.”
Two years on from agreeing with Chorley Council to retain it, the structure was Grade II Listed by Historic England. The area around it has now been fully landscaped and also houses a special plaque unveiled by the Princess Royal when she visited Lucas Green last year.
Pillboxes and gun emplacements are made of concrete and brick and were built for use in the Second World War as defensive guard posts. They featured holes so weapons could be fired from them when the area was under attack.
The Lucas Green installation comprises a pillbox with a light anti-aircraft gun emplacement attached, which was designed to accommodate a static Bofors 40mm gun. This combination of the two elements with such a notable degree of preservation is what makes it rare.
It was originally built to defend the Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) at Chorley against enemy attack, both from the ground and from the air. Documentary evidence indicates that four static Bofors guns were deployed in the area surrounding the Chorley ROF by 80th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery in mid-November 1940 before being replaced by mobile Bofors guns the following year.
In rather a neat twist, Redrow has also been responsible for much of the regeneration of the old ROF Chorley site, which is now the thriving community of Buckshaw Village.
Lucas Green lies between Preston and Chorley in Whittle le Woods and boasts new three, four and five-bedroom detached family homes with exteriors inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. For more information about the homes currently on sale visit www.redrow.co.uk/lucas
or call 01257 269051.
Established more than 40 years, Redrow Homes is one of the UK’s leading house builders, with a £1billion turnover and building more than 4,000 homes in 2014/15 financial year.
Operating across England and Wales, there is a strong emphasis on providing high quality homes in prime locations and its housing ranges feature designs to suit all lifestyles:
• The Heritage Collection combines traditional looking, ‘Arts & Crafts’ influenced exteriors with bright, modern, high specification interiors.
• The classically styled Regent Collection features Georgian inspired street scenes and architecture.
• Redrow has also launched a new brand of contemporary homes in Abode, which boast open plan layouts with streamlined kitchen, dining and lounge areas, high specification wet rooms and outdoor living space.
Redrow also creates exclusive bespoke developments in both rural and urban locations. The company has won numerous awards over the years, including, most recently, Best House Design at the Sunday Times British Home Awards 2015, the Gold Award for Best Large Housebuilder at the What House? Awards 2014, the 2014 Building Awards Housebuilder of the Year and five consecutive 5* awards in the Home Builder Federation (HBF) annual customer satisfaction survey. Its ‘My Redrow’ online tool won the overall Customer Engagement category at the 2013 Peer Awards for Excellence. Web: www.redrow.co.uk