WILD FUTURE FOR FORMER WAR TOWER
Prees Heath Common in 2006, the former RAF control tower has now been conserved. We are very grateful to the Meres & Mosses Landscape Partnership Scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Natural England funded by Higher Level Stewardship for financing this important project. The work was carried out by local builder Phil Mullock, and the building was officially re-opened on 27th June 2014 by Martin Noble, a Butterfly Conservation member whose father worked in the building during World War Two.
A series of information panels are attached to the exterior of the building. These give visitors information about various aspects of the Common’s remarkable history, including:
* World War One – An army training camp, a military hospital and a demobilisation centre
* World War Two – An internment camp and a prisoner-or-war camp
* World War Two – A bomber training RAF airfield
* The Heritage of the Common and the Campaign to Save the Heath
* The Silver-studded Blue butterfly and it’s amazing life cycle
* The Geology of the Common and why it is so sandy and flat
* The Meres and Mosses Project and other nearby sites of interest
A key feature of the project was to make the building suitable for a range of wildlife. Six bird boxes especially designed for Swifts have been installed on the exterior, although this year one was occupied by Blue Tits and another by House Sparrows. Blackbirds nested in one of the building’s vents. Gaps have been left in the former windows to allow birds, bats and insects to access the interior, and wooden structures have been installed inside to encourage bats to roost. In August we counted over 50 hibernating Small Tortoiseshell butterflies as well as Peacock butterflies and some Herald moths suspended from the ceilings. We hope one day Swallows may nest inside.