Dunkirk hero’s legacy to cadets

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You are invited to check out a hidden gem in the heart of Duntable on Saturday.

Dunstable Sea Cadet Corps is opening its headquarters at The Old Mill, a Grade II listed building, to show off the work of the corps, and the building.

Visitors can discover some history of The Old Mill, learn about Dunstable’s own Admiral Sir Lionel Preston KGB and see what the Sea Cadets get up to today in the building he bought for them in the early days of World War II.

Sir Lionel, who had a long and distinguished career in the Royal Navy, took charge of the small ships for the vital Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 at the age of 65.

The Old Mill, hidden next to the RC Church in West Street, will be open to the public for the first time since World War II.

Commanding Officer Sub Lt Ade Blumenthal said: “Dunstable residents see the Cadets around Dunstable in their uniforms supporting the Town at events like Remembrance Day and Civic Services but they never see them at home in The Old Mill, few even know the Old Mill exists. To correct this we are inviting the town to come for a cup of tea and a look round. Admission will be free after 10 am on Saturday 6th June.”

Sir Lionel joined the Navy aged only 13 and rose up to become Fourth Sea Lord and retired at 60 to live in Dunstable. An expert in Mine Sweeping, he was called out of retirement at the start of World War II and was responsible for the Little Ships at Dunkirk and for clearing the Normandy beaches of mines before D-Day in 1945.

There has been a mill in West Street for many hundreds of years. The current mill was built in the first half of the nineteenth century as a windmill.