If you live in the local area of Waypost Wood in Cranfield, you may have noticed some activity around the old, dilapidated WWII pillbox. 

Repurposing Waypost Woods pillbox 

Back in 2016 we acquired the former arable farm, which was to become Waypost Wood. During the winters of 2017 and 2018 the 7-hectare area was planted with trees and shrubs to create this community woodland. During the planning process, a WWII pillbox was discovered at the edge of the land. This type 22 pillbox would have been built in 1940-41 as part of the field defences against the possible invasion by Germany, following the fall of France’s defences. A line of pillboxes was built to protect Cranfield airfield, which was at the time an RAF base.  

Our plan is to restore this pillbox and repurpose it as a bat roost. Restoration of the brick and concrete pillbox will have historical significance for both the Cranfield and wider community interested in our country’s heritage and history. Repurposing the pillbox as a bat roost will retain the structure of the pillbox whilst creating an important wildlife habitat. 

Pill box at Waypost Wood before renovation began

A home for bats

The UK bat population is in serious decline due to habitat loss and building and development near existing roosts. The renovation of the pillbox will give our local bat population an opportunity to thrive and will benefit hugely from the creation of a permanent roost in a sheltered woodland area. Twelve of the 18 UK bat species have been recorded in Bedfordshire, including more common species such as the Common and Soprano pipistrelles to the rarer Barbastelle, and safe day roosting and winter hibernation opportunities are vital to support this population.  

There have been many examples of the successful conversion of pillboxes to bat roosts around the country. The dark, damp nature of these structures is ideal for bats and the pillbox in Waypost Wood is particularly suitable as the woodland provides perfect feeding and breeding conditions. Additionally, being adjacent to a hedgerow provides a flight corridor to neighbouring land. To be repurposed the pillbox will have a grilled door at the end of a short entrance tunnel to allow bat access but prevent human access to the interior. The size of the gunslots will be reduced to stabilise the interior light level, temperature and humidity. In the interior, materials including brick and wood will be used to create crevices for the bats to roost in. 

Bats are a UK protected species, under constant threat – through this project we plan to support our local bat population whilst preserving a building of local historical significance. 

Daubenton's bat hibernating on cave roof.

A huge thanks to FFC Communities Foundation for funding this project, and the Bedfordshire Bat Group for their support and advising.

We will be posting updates on this project on our social media channels, so make you follow to keep up to date.




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