Drive to boost New Milton's last remaining air raid shelter and graves of famous residents
COMMUNITY groups have come together to highlight the history of New Milton’s last air raid shelter and the graves of renowned residents.
The town council’s amenities committee heard land clearance and planting was set to be carried out near the shelter at the junction of Avenue Road and Station Road, and at the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene in Church Lane.
Assistant town clerk Theresa Elliott told the meeting the shelter was the last of three in the town from the Second World War.
Suggestions included fitting an information board compiled by Milton Heritage Society chair Nick Saunders.
Landowner PHP Holdings had given the green light for the work, Mrs Elliott said, with New Milton Residents’ Association set to provide funding.
The association’s community gardens team is expected to be involved in the planting, which could include raised flowerbeds and wildflowers.
Welcoming the plan, Cllr Alan O’Sullivan said: “At the entrance to the town, it would be good to have that made presentable the sooner the better.”
But Cllr Alan Rice argued the shelter should not be made more visible to passers-by.
“In my opinion that’s the last thing you want,” he said. “It’s a bland, brick, windowless building.
“As a main approach to New Milton, the area deserves a beautiful range of colourful trees.”
But Cllr Steve Clarke highlighted the rarity of the structure, which was used to provide shelter from flack during attacks.
“It might not look very interesting but I can read the sign and be interested in the history of it,” he said.
Mrs Elliott stressed the single tree proposed to be cut down was dead and at risk of falling.
Committee members also welcomed plans for “sympathetic” works to make the St Mary Magdalene churchyard more presentable.
Information boards could be placed at the Church Lane pedestrian entrance and by the church car park, with fingerposts for the five most historical graves.
These include those of Lt Col. George Wheeler who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War, and poet John Heath-Stubbs.
Plaques would also be installed with QR codes people can scan with their smartphones to read more information.
The committee also approved a heritage board at New Milton recreation ground which marked its 100th anniversary last September.
A similar board could also soon be installed at Ashley recreation ground.