Pupils who attend schools close to the St. Andrew’s Park development in Uxbridge have been commemorating the Battle of Britain in a creative and unusual fashion while learning about the site’s important history.
The children, aged between four and eight years old have created drawings depicting RAF planes used to win the Battle of Britain, and the medals subsequently awarded to members of the RAF for their bravery.
These pictures form a giant poster to be displayed at the famous St. Andrew’s Gate on the site of the VINCI St. Modwen development, which is home to the Grade 1 Listed Battle of Britain Bunker containing the secret operations room. The site also features Hillingdon House, the Bomber Command headquarters and then military hospital.
The former RAF base now renamed St. Andrews Park, will provide around 1,300 homes alongside a new public park and an extension to the town centre which features offices, retail space and a hotel.
The posters displaying the artwork will be seen by thousands of motorists and public transport users everyday as they pass along Hillingdon Road and past the 110 acre development which began in 2013 and is expected to take seven years to complete.
Tim Seddon, St. Modwen’s Regional Director for London and the South East, said: “This is a hugely important project on many levels and it has been rewarding to get local children on board. We are delivering a huge number of homes in a new community and very much want to build on the site’s heritage, respecting the old, while welcoming the new.”
One of the first parts of the development to be built was the John Locke Academy, which opened in September 2014. It was pupils from this school, aged four and five, who designed the medals on the hoardings, while the planes were drawn by seven to eight year olds from nearby Ryefield Primary School.
Assistant Principal of John Locke Academy, Helen Squires said: “The children were fascinated learning all about the history of the Battle of Britain, which was a lot to take in considering they are only 4-5 years old. They collaborated exceptionally well on the medals and took great care in making them look ‘extra special’ because they felt this would be a good way to say thank you to the men who were really brave and fought for their country. We are really proud of them and feel privileged that we can be a part of this piece of local history”.
The school is just a few hundred metres from the bunker where, in 1940, Winston Churchill famously declared: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” upon exiting the bunker.
Today it is run by RAF volunteers who have kept the operations room just as it was 75 years ago. The volunteers also had information displays up in the briefing room until this was severely damaged by floods last summer.
However as part of its investment in the site’s heritage St. Modwen has agreed to step in and fund the refurbishment of this part of the bunker in order that it can be returned to good use by the RAF.
And the production of such stunning artwork is not the end of the children’s involvement in commemorating the war heroes. Next term St. Modwen is organising the burial of a time capsule near to the bunker. Local schools and communities are being invited to contribute towards the capsule which will then be buried for 25 years before being dug up for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.