Bedford’s “Dad’s Army” pillbox is restored to wartime glory

Restoration of a Second World War army pillbox, in the Interchange Retail Park Kempston and is the only one still surviving in Bedford
Restoration of a Second World War army pillbox, in the Interchange Retail Park Kempston and is the only one still surviving in Bedford

Bedford’s only surviving Second World War defensive ‘pillbox’ has been restored to its former glory.

The pillbox, a small fortified building, was constructed during the 1939-1945 war when invasion by the German army was a deadly serious threat.

Sitting now in the Interchange Retail Park, in Kempston, in 1942 it was one of 20,000 built to protect vital installations.

Its specific role was to protect the railway plus munitions factories in Ampthill Road and Elstow.

These pillboxes were manned by the Territorial Army made up of the young and old, later made famous by the comic television programme “Dad’s Army”.

In those dark days it was a serious matter.

The threatened invasion never happened of course so gradually these buildings rotted, destroyed by winters.

The pillbox had 70 years’ of weeds and vegetation removed, refurbished, and rendered to protect the old bricks.

Finally it was painted to blend into the scenery, very much as it would have been in the war.

The official opening took place on Sunday with on the right holding the scissors Russell Beard, chairman of Gale Family Charity Trust who kindly donated most of the funds, Jon Miles is next to Russell Beard. Jon is the main driving force behind this project to save part of our history.

To the far left is Malcolm Henrickson who freely donated the cost of the roof.