Chan­cel­lor at RAF bunker ahead of restora­tion

MP is moved by visit to WW2 site

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

AROUND £4.5m of Hilling­don tax payer’s money and £1m of bankers’ fines will go to­wards “ren­o­vat­ing a vi­tal piece of our history”.

Boris John­son, MP for Uxbridge & South Ruis­lip, showed Chan­cel­lor Ge­orge Os­bourne how the money would be used to open RAF Uxbridge’s Bat­tle of Bri­tain bunker to the public, dur­ing a visit last Thurs­day (Septem­ber 10).

The bunker’s oper­a­tions room was the site from which the RAF co­or­di­nated the air de­fence of Lon­don and the South of Eng­land dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, 75 years ago.

Mr Os­bourne pledged £1m from his sum­mer bud­get to help Hilling­don Coun­cil meet the tar­get it needed for the restora­tion work.

The history-steeped bunker gave the Chan­cel­lor “tin­gles in his spine” as he walked down the nar­row stair­case to where history was made.

He said: “Boris drew my at­ten­tion to this in­cred­i­ble piece of Bri­tish history. What’s in­cred­i­ble is that you ap­proach it just un­der a lit­tle hill in Uxbridge and you wouldn’t even know it’s here. When you walk into that room with the board where all the women from the RAF would push their croupier sticks... you’ve seen that room in so many movies and pic­tures but to ac­tu­ally see it in real life is in­cred­i­ble.”

Mr Os­borne ex­plained the £1m he pledged will come from fines paid by city bankers: “Frankly, some of them demon­strated the very worst of Bri­tish fam­i­lies. I think we should use that money to recog­nise the in­cred­i­ble sac­ri­fice made by the very best of Bri­tish fam­i­lies to make our way of life pos­si­ble.”

Mr John­son said he is grate­ful for the com­mit­ment of money from the Chan­cel­lor and praised the bunker.

He said: “If this place hadn’t worked in 1940 and Bri­tain had folded, then the whole of Europe would have re­mained un­der Hitler’s sub­ju­ga­tion and we would never have had the lib­er­a­tion of the world.

“Ev­ery­body in Uxbridge and those in­volved will be in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for recog­nis­ing the his­toric im­por­tance of this place.

“This is where Churchill was on Au­gust 16 1940 when all day they’d been try­ing to keep the Ger­mans off and wave af­ter wave of Ger­man planes were com­ing over south Bri­tain and ev­ery sin­gle plane that they were ca­pa­ble of de­ploy­ing was in the air.

“It was a truly ter­ri­fy­ing mo­ment for the coun­try.”

Speak­ing at the event, Mr John­son couldn’t help but joke about his stance on Heathrow Air­port.

He said: “Never for­get the his­toric role of this place of in keep­ing out of the skies of Lon­don thou­sands of un­nec­es­sary noisy and dis­rup­tive air­craft move­ments which we would not want to see again!”

De­voted vol­un­teers and public do­na­tions have kept the bunker go­ing but it des­per­ately needs ren­o­va­tion fol­low­ing flood dam­age.

The VIPs were shown around by AC (Re­tired) Cyn­thia Fowler, Chair of the Friends of 11 Group Bunker, and Chris Wren of the Friends vol­un­teers and saw the per­fectly pre­served com­mand cen­tre, orig­i­nal uni­forms, arte­facts, photos and the chair used by Win­ston Churchill when he vis­ited the Bunker.

Hilling­don Coun­cil leader Ray Pud­di­foot said: “The coun­cil is proud to be the home of the Bat­tle of Bri­tain bunker.

“We are ac­quir­ing the bunker and its aux­il­iary build­ings from the Min­istry of De­fence and in­vest­ing £4.5m to build a new visi­tor and ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre above it.

“The sup­port of Boris John­son MP and the Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer in pro­vid­ing £1m for ren­o­va­tion work on the bunker is very welcome. This is a na­tional as­set which will be pre­served for cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

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