Fuel bunker gets spruce up

Before: Some of the AR9 painting crew (left to right): Mike Pettit, Elwyn Andree-Wiltens, Sue Milner and Roger Gordon getting ready to spruce up the old fuel bunker, with Dean Epps up top.

Members of the community were out in force recently, painting the concrete pump house above the Te Koo Utu Lake car park.

The structure was once attached to an aviation fuel depot during World War II, now the focus of a restoration project supported by the Cambridge Community Board with the help of individuals and businesses in the community.

The tank, which held up to 2.27 million litres of fuel for the Air Force station at Rukuhia, was emptied in July 1946 and removed in 1950. The concrete pump house and the tunnelling that led to the tank were sealed shut with a concrete wall in the 1970s. The site became subject of several rumours over the years, some believing it to be a secret tunnel.

After: The newly camouflaged bunker, ready for its short opening ceremony on September 3.

Merv Cronin, who recalled running through the tunnel when he was a child, inspired a story by Cambridge News in 2014, which discovered that it was in fact a fuel bunker. Last year Merv spoke at a community board meeting requesting that the site be made accessible with information signs explaining the history and purpose of AR9.

That project is now underway, starting with the recent riddance of its unsightly graffiti at a working bee last weekend, where it was painted with a more suitable camouflage look. The concrete seal on the front has also been replaced with metal grills to see the inside, and the track going past the pump house has been replaced with steps to make the site more accessible. Information signage will soon be erected.

On Monday September 3, at 3pm, the Cambridge Community Board will hold a short commemorative event at the AR9 pump house to mark the completion of the project, with the public encouraged to attend.

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