Spuduka's Pillbox Log Upper Thames set

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To give some background you have to go back to 1940 when the UK was at risk from Germany invading after the fall of France. Sir Edmund Ironside was made CO of the Home Guard and embarked on building a series of stop lines. Work started around June 1940 and stopped around August 1940 when Ironside was replaced and General staff thought of a different strategy.

The idea was to protect London and used natural barriers and ditches to deter any chance of the Germans using tanks like they did in France. Between the natural barriers anti-tank ditches were dug and pillboxes built to defend London from attack. When work stopped on the stop lines the pillboxes were left and over 1200 remain today.

How much use the stop lines would have been is open to question as the home defence were short of guns to man them with anyway as a lot of equipment and guns were left behind in France after the fall.

Today we still see the defences around and many of the pillboxes still exist though they are blending into the undergrowth and canít easily be seen. Someone called them the castles of the twentieth century, which in a way they were. Some are in danger of being destroyed, others succumbing to the elements.

I set out at first to record the ones I knew about along the River Thames. This then turned out a never-ending task as I found more and more, including a couple that people did not realise were there. I ended up covering the Thames from Pangbourne to Abingdon using the Defence of Britain (DOB) database I managed to get a download for my Anquet digital mapping. The further afield I went, the more I came across, and now my log ranges from Theale to Duxford. I also used a book called Ironsides line which was a big help in my quest.

I have been concentrating on the Red line but intend to do the Blue line which runs down the River Kennet and hopefully join up with the green line that runs up to the Red line somewhere near Swindon. A lot of this I do on my own but I do go on explorations with other people. The red line has some of the best preserved pillboxes and the biggest concentration is between Theale and Pangbourne (the Sulham Valley) followed by the Abingdon to Appleton stretch. The work is done mostly in the winter when the weeds and undergrowth have died down, so I will be out again with my fellow pillbox hunters recording what I can find.
Due to the length of the stoplines I intend to split them up into areas.

My travels can be followed by clicking the link below.
LinkExternal link

You can also see them on Google maps in Panoramio
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More info on the types can be seen here
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1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP4101 : Pillbox and gate by Bill Nicholls SP4101 : Looking at the front by Bill Nicholls SP4101 : White inside by Bill Nicholls SP4101 : Pointing to a rivet by Bill Nicholls
To start this section you need to follow the Thames path rather than how I did it in bits. I'll start from the bridge that crosses the Thames at Appleton Common, turn left and head towards Newbridge. The first pillbox is over to the left near Stonehenge farm and of added interest is a benchmark which is on the base.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP4001 : Corrugated sides by Bill Nicholls SP4001 : Camouflaged front by Bill Nicholls SP4001 : Number 226 by Bill Nicholls
Next along is one I missed when I first cam along here, it was shown nearer the road and we though it had been demolished, I guy I work with told me of it and with that I was straight down there to find out is was well back from the river in the undergrowth so no wonder I did not spot it.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP4001 : An old friend by Bill Nicholls SP4001 : The overhang by Bill Nicholls SP4001 : Keep out by Bill Nicholls
This one is by the footbridge that crosses the River Windrush which is undercutting the base. It is possible to view the inside but not advisable due to the danger of it going in. I have been inside and it was full of rubbish. The pillbox is in good condition though every time I go past on the road I check it is still there though the tilt gets worse.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP4001 : Hidden behind the trees by Bill Nicholls SP4001 : Pillbox by the river by Bill Nicholls SP4001 : A type 24 by Bill Nicholls
To see this one from the Thames path in the summer you will have to look hard as a willow blocks the view but it can be seen from the other side of the Windrush. I could not say who owns the land it is on but I walked back to Kingfisher Bridge and down the track beside it and across the field. The pillbox is in good condition and clean inside.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP3801 : In the bush by Bill Nicholls SP3801 : Back through the hedge by Bill Nicholls SP3801 : Inside the box by Bill Nicholls
This one took some finding due it being hidden from view. I had walked the Thames path from Duxford to Appleton and had looked carefully as we walked past the area for ant signs of a pillbox too no avail. Finally I looked on Elgin maps which came up with the position, though Google earth showed little other than hedgerow. After visiting the one at Shifford I walked across the fields (with owner's consent) and spotted it in the corner amongst the hedge. Visiting was a matter of climbing over a fence and ditch. It is on someone else's land but I was not told who the owner was so I hope they don't mind my visiting the pillbox. It is not an easy one to get to.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP3701 : Pillbox at the farm by Bill Nicholls SP3701 : Shifford farm pillbox by Bill Nicholls SP3701 : A look through the loophole by Bill Nicholls
This one is at Old Shifford Farm in the farmyard. I drove down and asked if it was ok to visit, permission was freely given and I was told where abouts it was. In excellent condition and is also fenced off. I did not go inside as I did not want to go climbing the fence. You would not be able to see this from the Thames path either even with binoculars. From here I walked across the field to the previous one.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP3600 : Pillbox by the path by Bill Nicholls SP3600 : Ripped from the back by Bill Nicholls SP3600 : Not the most pleasant by Bill Nicholls
This one was gotten to by crossing the ford across the Thames at Duxford (dam cold) but it is found to be subsiding a bit. Externals look good and at one time had a door fitted. Inside is a different story with the ricochet removed and the inside full of smelly water from flooding, not only that on the visit it was full of rubbish bags.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP3500 : Strictly no Mooring by Bill Nicholls SP3500 : Other direction by Bill Nicholls SP3500 : Set of steps on this one by Bill Nicholls
Along to Chimney next and though it is easy enough to get to along the Thames path from Duxford I walked from Tadpole Bridge. This first Pillbox I called Chimney East and is in good condition though you do have to get across a ditch to visit it which at the time was frozen so made crossing better.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU3599 : Looking at the front by Bill Nicholls SU3599 : Back with a staircase by Bill Nicholls SU3599 : Clean inside by Bill Nicholls
This one is near Tenfoot Bridge by Chimney Nature reserve and again you will need to cross a ditch after getting over a fence I might add. It sits on the biggest base I've come across yet, what's more has a staircase leading to it. Inside is good apart from it looks like the local birds are living in there.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP3400 : Blocked up entrance by Bill Nicholls SP3400 : No loopholes in the front by Bill Nicholls SP3400 : Eroding away by Bill Nicholls
This pillbox is on the western side of Chimney Nature reserve and is the first one you come across from Tadpole Bridge. It's blocked up to encourage bats to live in and the access is gated off. Externally the pillbox is deteriorating in places as can be seen from the crumbling concrete and rebar poking out.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP3200 : Pillbox by the bend by Bill Nicholls SP3200 : All bricked up by Bill Nicholls SP3200 : Rivet on top by Bill Nicholls
This next pillbox is east of Rushey lock along the approach road to it. It is on a bend in the river and probably covered the Bridge in case of attack. The pillbox is in good condition though is blocked up, the entrance works in a different way from usual in that the small gate is at the bottom. It was possible to get a shot inside with my camera but that just showed the internals clean and in good condition as well. At the time of the visit it was stacked with nesting boxes on one side. A bonus for the Benchmark hunter there is a rivet one on the base.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP3100 : Pillbox on the bend by Bill Nicholls SP3100 : Open entrance by Bill Nicholls
Walking along from Rushey lock you can make the one out in the distance, it's only when you get near do you see it is on the opposite side of the river partly covered in brambles and weeds. Pillbox looks to be open so a second visit will be on the cards.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP3100 : Pillbox in the field by Bill Nicholls SP3100 : Corrugated sides by Bill Nicholls
A bit further along the Thames path you can see this pillbox which is set further back in the field. At the time we discussed about visiting but the shooting we heard coupled with the 4x4's we could see put us off. Pillbox looks to be in good condition but again a further visit is needed.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP2900 : Corrugated pillbox by Bill Nicholls SP2900 : Sandbags at the entrance by Bill Nicholls SP2900 : In the embrasure by Bill Nicholls
Have to walk onto Old Mans Bridge for the next pillbox which is across the river to the left. It is in good condition both inside and out though the concrete quality is questionable, Concrete filled sandbags litter the ground by the entrance.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2899 : Breastwork from the gate by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : Long wall by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : Cross section at the entrance by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : Front from the end by Bill Nicholls
From the bridge it is on to Radcot where the bridge was well defended, the first thing you see is the breastworks there which must have been impressive before they were filled with rubbish. We think the first (we discovered a second later)is about fifty foot long on the straight side and longer on the front which "D" shaped.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2899 : Tree in front by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : Back of a type 28 by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : Type 28A by Radcot Bridge by Bill Nicholls
A short walk away you come across this Type 28A which looks in good condition though viewing inside is not possible due to it being closed off with a door and a board over the main embrasure. The hotel owns the property it's on like the last breastworks.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2899 : Dinghy by the entrance by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : Pillbox on the corner by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : First and last by Bill Nicholls
This pillbox is on the other side of the bridge to the last one and is on a fork in the Thames. The bank around is used as moorings though I have no doubt a visit is possible.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2899 : Vee shaped defence by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : Wall cross section by Bill Nicholls SU2899 : Wall cross section by Bill Nicholls
We only came across this one when my colleague though he noticed concrete and went for a nose. It's another defensive position or breastwork which has been infilled to form a platform though the cross section of the walls is still visible. The position is on a camp site though you can just see it from a nearby bridge.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2799 : Looking from the downstream side by Bill Nicholls SU2799 : A type 24 by Bill Nicholls SU2799 : Entrance from the field by Bill Nicholls
This is the next one you come to from Radcot and is set back off the river a bit beside the Thames Path. It's another in good condition.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2698 : Willow by the pillbox by Bill Nicholls SU2698 : Back with a fence by Bill Nicholls SU2698 : Leaning to the river by Bill Nicholls SU2698 : River beside it by Bill Nicholls SU2698 : Walking along the path by Bill Nicholls
I would call this one the Water Eaton pillbox as that is the nearest place to it even though it is across the river. Good condition though on this occasion if was flooded inside from the recent rain

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2799 : Entrance from the field by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Pallet by the pillbox by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Close up of the walls by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Entrance over the fence by Bill Nicholls
This is the first of the four pillboxes you will find at Kelmscott and is tending to overhang the river a bit now, it is along the a Thames path so easy to see but you will also see another to the right across the field.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2598 : Looking back by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Number three by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Entrance side by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Front view of the type 24 by Bill Nicholls
This pillbox can be see across the meadow from the pack of the previous one and is set back along by a ditch. It is another in good condition.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2598 : Entrance in the Ivy by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Back towards the manor by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Lane to the river by Bill Nicholls SU2598 : Pillbox front by Bill Nicholls
To find this one you need to walk up along the track leading to Kelmscott Manor and you should see the back of the pillbox on your left. It is well covered in ivy and not the cleanest inside but in good condition.. Take care if you want to view from the front as there is a steep bank leading down to a stream if you slip.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2498 : Type 24 on the corner by Bill Nicholls SU2498 : One by the entrance by Bill Nicholls SU2498 : Upstream side by Bill Nicholls SU2498 : Through the embrasure by Bill Nicholls
Going back to the Thames path and heading towards Lechlade you will pass this one before you come to the Eaton Footbridge. Inside is as good as most I have seen with some rubbish as you come to expect.


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2398 : Downstream side by Bill Nicholls SU2398 : Fence by the pillbox by Bill Nicholls SU2398 : Entrance to number 152 by Bill Nicholls SU2398 : Ivy on the inside by Bill Nicholls
Heading on towards Buscot you pass by Buscot Wharf and you will see this one just back off the river, it is suffering from some erosion on the roof line and still has the number 152 inside the doorway. It is also betting some ivy covering of it as can be seen on one of the embrasures.


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2398 : Walking away by Bill Nicholls SU2398 : Front view by Bill Nicholls SU2398 : Steps to the entrance by Bill Nicholls SU2398 : View inside by Bill Nicholls SU2398 : Walking round the pillbox by Bill Nicholls
Carry one towards Buscot along the Thames Path and this one will come into view apart from the usual rubbish dumped inside it's in good condition and the number 151 still in the entrance.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2298 : Pillbox through the trees by Bill Nicholls SU2298 : Seen through the trees by Bill Nicholls SU2298 : Kerbstones at the front by Bill Nicholls SU2298 : Side of the Type 22 by Bill Nicholls
Walking on towards Buscot lock to find the next you will be hard pushed as I only spotted this one in the old Thames Water Treatment plant, I still have go back for a visit. Managed to get back after getting permission from the land owner. Pillbox is in reasonable condition though inside does have rubbish inside.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2298 : Walking to the pillbox by Bill NichollsSU2298 : Rebar poking out by Bill Nicholls SU2298 : Path going round by Bill Nicholls SU2298 : Hole below the embrasure by Bill Nicholls
Going on along the Thames path towards Lechlade you will pass the next as you walk round one of the bends. It's quite beaten up and well documented and the only one listed on the DOB for Buscot (there are 4) I personally think it was used for target practice to try out munitions prior to D Day.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU2199 : Just across the Bend by Bill Nicholls SU2199 : Closer shot of the pillbox by Bill Nicholls SU2199 : Front view by Bill Nicholls SU2199 : Moving upstream by Bill Nicholls
And so to the last one. Walking on along the Thames from Buscot and past St Johns lock you will see this one across the river. Looks in reasonable condition though suffering from some erosion as a lump is about to come off the corner. I intend to comeback and visit at a later date.
Well that should be it, I have now gone from Theale to Lechlade though I'm told there is another in Cricklade. Not quite sure if I should feel something at this point but I will just go off and carry on with recording the Kennet.






KML
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