The only remaining pillbox in Whitchurch has been restored, by kind permission of the owner of the house in whose garden it was installed in the Second World War.
Pauline and Alan Rees, who live in Lynch Hill Park in Whitchurch, knew that there was a structure at the bottom of their garden when they bought the house, but only recently were there plans to restore the disused pillbox. The project was the brainchild of Graham Burgess, who first suggested the restoration of the pillbox in 2007 No action was taken until, as part of the national campaign to commemorate the First World War a hundred years ago, the project was ressurected as part of an approach to look at all aspects of war as they affected the town.
Graham Burgess approached Sir George, to get help with the restoration project, who contacted Army Headquarters in Andover. The pillbox and surrounds were cleared by a group of soldiers led by Major Bryan Jones, Captain Colin Jurgens and Wayne Cooper. During the excavation, a King George farthing and two lovers lockets were discovered. Formally opening the project, Sir George welcomed the Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Roger Gardiner and the Mayor of Whitchurch, Mike Kean. He thanked Alan and Pauline for hosting the ceremony, and for allowing the pillbox to be restored so that it was clearly visible from Newbury Street. Sir George said that there must have been other pillboxes in the town as, by the time the enemy advancing from Southampton had reached Lynch Hill Park, most of the town would have fallen. Pillboxes were used for observation, but also if necessary, for firing from to defend key locations. The pillbox overlooked a prisoner of war camp in the town, and was also close to the two railway lines.
Sir George said that the pillbox would add to the attractions in the town, along with the Silk Mill and help put it on the map as a tourist destination. He thanked Basingstoke and Deane for making a grant out of the Community Heritage and Environment Fund, and also thanked the National Pillbox Study Group for providing some background to the history of pillboxes. Flower planting has taken place around the pillbox, and Graham Burgess plans to put a trellis depicting an eye in the door of the pillbox to designate its primary purpose of observation.