News article created on 13 May 2015

Girl guides transform WWII pill box into bat haven

Girl Guides have transformed an abandoned World War II pillbox on the banks of the Kennet & Avon Canal in Berkshire into a haven for bats.

The Guides have created a bat mansion, as well as helping out with painting and wildflower planting, at Garston Lock near Reading, after having ‘adopted’ the lock through our volunteering programme.

Habitat loss has been a major factor in the recent national decline of these fascinating mammals, who rely on cave-like places to safely rear their young. By kitting-out the inside of the pillbox with spaces for the crevice dwelling species to roost, and securing the door from disturbance by people, this relic of the war will provide a new habitat in a prime location.

All you can eat buffet 

Laura Plenty, ecologist at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Buildings like this one with lots of nooks and crannies are ideal for bats, and it’s wonderful to have the help of the Guides to get it ready for the new residents. It really is the perfect spot. All 18 species of bat we have in the UK feed solely on insects, so the canal will act as their ‘all you can eat’ buffet, as well as a superhighway connecting them to the wider landscape.”

The Kennet & Avon Canal formed part of a defensive line developed during the Second World War in anticipation of a German invasion. Pillboxes were built to provide sheltered guard posts and slow the advance of enemy forces and are, today, poignant reminders of the period.