Rescuing Hitchin's historic pillboxes

Hitchin Historical Society spent last Saturday cutting off ivy and trees from a pillbox in North Hitchin

Hitchin Historical Society spent last Saturday cutting off ivy and trees from a pillbox in North Hitchin - Credit: Simon Maddison

Simon Maddison and Simon Walker, of Hitchin Historical Society, are working to preserve the town's Second World War pillboxes.

Regular readers will remember an earlier article about the overgrown Second World War pillbox near the railway bridge over Grove Road.

The landowners have very kindly removed much of the damaging undergrowth, and the pillbox now has a more promising future.

Another pillbox in north Hitchin has now been rescued from further damage by invasive vegetation.

Under the auspices of Hitchin Historical Society a group of volunteers spent one Saturday recently cutting off ivy and trees that had covered the building and were ripping the surface brickwork off the concrete structure.

Pillbox in North Hitchin covered in ivy and trees.

Pillbox in North Hitchin covered in ivy and trees. - Credit: Simon Maddison

Pillboxes were defensive structures built all over Britain in 1939/40 when there was fear of a German invasion.

These structures are one of the only two boxes remaining in Hitchin. There were at one time at least four, possibly more.

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Following an article in the Comet about the pillboxes Mark Hodgson contacted the Historical Society and helped organise a work party.

Mark says "thanks to the landowner's kind permission we were able to strip off all the ivy damaging the building and uncover the loopholes from which British soldiers would have fired on the Nazis should they have invaded.

"Further conservation may include making the inside suitable for a bat roost.”

Our photo shows the pillbox being revealed as the ivy was being removed.

We hope to install information plaques or boards on or near these fortifications.

If you know of any more pillboxes in the area, or have information about the ones we've found, please contact the Comet by emailing anne.suslak@archant.co.uk, and they will pass on the information to what has now become informally known as "The Pillbox Group."