Campaign to save Steeton's rare Second World War pillbox

Craven Herald: On guard: the Haworth Home Guard re-enactment group in front of the pillbox On guard: the Haworth Home Guard re-enactment group in front of the pillbox

A campaign has begun to save a rare Second World War pillbox on the site of a former munitions factory used as a set in the classic 1970s film, Yanks.

The two-storey brick building, at Steeton, is thought to be one of only two in the country.

It is among three pillboxes linked to the former Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) in the village. The other two are only single-storey and regarded as less important.

They were built as defences for the factory and manned by a factory-based Home Guard unit.

English Heritage is now considering an application to either list or schedule the two-storey structure and is preparing a report for the Department of Culture.

The ROF site was used by American director John Schlesinger to shoot scenes for the 1979 film Yanks, charting life on a US army base and in the nearby English community.

The pillboxes are off Thornhill Road, where planning permission has been given to Skipton Properties to build 229 homes.

Peter Whitaker, of Cross Hills, a member of re-enactment group Haworth Home Guard, said: “I think it’s important to save the building because it’s rare, but also it would be preserving what little is left of that factory.”

Mr Whitaker, one of about 15 members of the re-enactment group, also has links to the pillbox through the film. He was an extra on the movie, playing a US soldier driving a lorry.

The pillbox is a model 24 and Mr Whitaker believes the only other is in Lewisham, London.

Laurence Brocklesby, chairman of Keighley and District Local History Society, said they had flagged up the importance of the pillbox to English Heritage.

“We have been in touch with English Heritage pointing out the historical value of the building. We hope it will be available for people to visit. It’s unique in this part of the country,” he said.

An English Heritage spokesman said: “It’s due to be assessed and we will make a recommendation to the Department of Culture.”

During the application process, Skipton Properties proposed retaining the pillbox in a public open space.

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