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Cash injection will preserve Uxbridge's wartime bunker for future generations

Boris Johnson and Hillingdon Council are among those overjoyed by a £1m pledge of Government money to restore Uxbridge's historic Battle of Britain bunker

The historic Battle of Britain bunker at Uxbridge is to receive a £1m refurbishment and could switch ownership from the Ministry of Defence to Hillingdon Council.

Chancellor George Osbourne announced the cash injection to preserve a "vital part of our history" during his summer budget on Wednesday (July 8).

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.

During his speech, Mr Osborne said: “The RAF’s Group Fighter Command Centre in west London was the place where the Battle of Britain was directed from – and it badly needs repair. Let its renovation stand as a monument to the heroes of the Battle of Britain and the days when aeroplanes flew freely over the skies of west London.”

Hillingdon Council is to invest a further £4.5m for a state-of-the-art visitor and education centre above the bunker.

Council leader Ray Puddifoot said: "The Battle of Britain bunker has a special place in the nation’s hearts and it is fitting that the Government has recognised this in the budget.

"The London Borough of Hillingdon is proud of its close links with the military and we look forward to taking ownership of the bunker and seeing it flourish in the years ahead."

London Mayor and Uxbridge & South Ruislip MP Boris Johnson was credited by Cllr Puddifoot for championing the cause with the Chancellor.

Boris said: “I welcome the Government’s commitment to £1m of funding for the restoration of the Battle of Britain bunker. It will go a long way in helping to make the improvements needed to ensure this incredible piece of our past is preserved for future generations.

“The RAF command centre in Uxbridge is an underground masterpiece of WW2 ingenuity that proved pivotal in defeating the Luftwaffe and ultimately helping to destroy Nazi tyranny. The opportunity to visit the bunker is something we must preserve as a permanent memorial to Britain’s indomitable fighting spirit.”

RAF girls line up at the bunker on the 75th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain

The bunker was restored to its former glory in 1985 using public donations but now desperately needs renovation following flood damage.

Retired Warrant Officer, Chris Wren MBE, who was stationed at RAF Uxbridge and has played a vital part in restoring it, said: “When there’s a big flood we don’t have the resources. It’s all mops and buckets and elbow grease. We’re still recovering from the last flood.

“When this was built in 1939, nobody envisaged it staying until 2015. It’s an important vital part of our history. It’s where history was made, this is the building that saved Britain in 1940 in my eyes. I want to see this built up for the future, we’re just passing ships in the night, but I want this to live on forever.”

Rare and unique items from war veterans and their families have been donated to the bunker and added to their curated collections for display.

WO Wren added: “Some of these items are worth thousands of pounds and people want us to have them instead. The collection is worth millions so it’s about looking after it for the next generation.”

Group Captain Andy Bacon, station commander at RAF Northolt, praised the role of the Uxbridge bunker in defending the UK during its “darkest hour” and said there are several options for the long-term sustainability, which will be assessed by the RAF in collaboration with Hillingdon Council.

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