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War Tower Returns To Former Glory (7th April 2014)

War Tower Returns To Former Glory

A former World War Two airfield control tower has been restored to its former glory and become a home for wildlife after standing derelict on a Shropshire nature reserve.

The tower, which sits at the heart of Butterfly Conservation’s Prees Heath nature reserve near Whitchurch, has been conserved and painted.

The outside of the building has been fitted with nest boxes for Swifts and entrances have been left in places so the interior is suitable for roosting bats and insects.

The fascinating military, social, natural, archaeological and geological history of the site is also detailed on information panels on the building’s exterior walls.

Prees Heath Common Reserve is the only site in the county for the rare Silver-studded Blue butterfly, but during the war the site was a key RAF airbase.

Originally known as RAF Whitchurch Heath but later changed to RAF Tilstock, the airfield was built by Alfred McAlpine and opened in August 1942. The airfield was a training base for pilots and aircrew learning how to fly bombers.

The airfield closed after the war and after a long-running campaign involving the Prees Heath Commoners and many local residents, the western half of the site was purchased by Butterfly Conservation in 2006.

Now (April 2014) this historic building has been conserved by Butterfly Conservation, with funding received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, through the Meres and Mosses Landscape Partnership Scheme, Natural England and Northern Marches LEADER.

The tower restoration plans were drawn up by Shrewsbury-based architect W Stephen Andrews and the building work was carried out by local firm P G Mullock of Bronington.

Stephen Lewis, Reserve Warden with Butterfly Conservation, said: “The work by Mr Andrews and Mr Mullock has been to a high standard and I am delighted with it.

“Prees Heath Common is a very special place with a rich history that deserves to be better known, and I hope that the building will help in this regard as well as providing a haven for wildlife.”