Posted: 17 October 2008 23:40

Roadblock recceRoadblock recceHaving been at Eridge for work purposes the last three Friday afternoons, instead of heading off home at the end of today's proceedings I looked for a couple of roadblocks.

Nothing remained, but I did find something else of interest.

Eridge Station was classified as a Category "B" Nodal Point (I sometimes see it written in documents as 'Bridge Station' where the 'E' has been misread as a 'B'), covering a perimeter around the railway station itself. The railway line was part of the GHQ Line from Newhaven up to Penshurst in Kent, and there are numerous Type 24 pillboxes in the vicinity, although I didn't visit any today.

There were several rail blocks in the area too; two to the south on railway bridges and one just to the north.

The Roadblock Report lists two blocks here; one on a bridge over a stream beside the station, and another on a side road leading to where a goods yard once stood. Both had cylinders and buoys, the one on the bridge also having 4 straight rails, presumably horizontally across the road.

Quickly ruling out the possibility of surviving remains, I turned my attention to a 1941 map of the Nodal Point.

Aside from the roadblocks, this shows the location of a number of defended posts, including one that, from examining the ground, would appear to have been situated near the buffers (the track at this platform having been removed in the 1960s) in the photo below.

Eridge Station

The bridge buttress (the capping stone is just visible amongst the vegetation to the left of the buffers) and its revetting wall might have formed the basis of one of the posts, perhaps a sandbagged position to cover the goods yard roadblock, a short distance out of shot to the left.

Another post is marked to cover the other roadblock; this might have been in the station itself, making it a defended building. This has only just occurred to me as I've been looking at the map while writing this; I need to take a look next time I'm at Eridge to see if there are windows or perhaps even bricked-up loopholes on the relevant wall of the building.

The map also showed what appeared to be a trench line sited for all-round defence on some high ground overlooking the road. Some ferreting around in the bushes revealed one dead rabbit (not marked on the map) and a slit trench; mouse over the photo below to see the outline.

Slit trench

Further invesigation revealed another trench on lower ground at another road junction; this location is not on the map, but the position is logical, the trench occupants having a field of fire all the way up the road to the station. However, the trench is quite large, being 180cm x 250cm; it appears to be used by local kids as a 'camp' judging by the fallen branches that have been laid over one end. The trench may even have been widened to serve this new purpose. There's no sign of any revetment though.

Slit trench

These positions would have been occupied by the local Home Guard; the dimensions are larger than those of trenches known to have been dug by the field army, but diagrams I've seen do show Home Guard trenches as being slightly larger than those of the army.

The evidence on the ground, though, does not match the trench layout on the map, which gives the impression that there was just one trench. I did see another impression in the ground that might have been another position, but the evidence was inconclusive.

Anyhow, the discovery of these trenches is not to be sneezed at; I've become a bit of an expert on trenches thanks to my Downsforce project and a significant number of earthwork defences will start to appear in the archaeological record as a result.

- Pete

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Buoys

Small concrete roadblock obstacle comprising a truncated cone with domed base. A hollow shaft down the centre allowed the buoy to be manhandled using a crowbar. Buoys were deemed of little value by 1941 and cylinders seen as a better solution.


Cylinders

Reinforced concrete cylindrical obstacles with a shaft down the centre in which could be inserted a crowbar for manhandling, or a picket for barbed wire. Cylinders were 90cm high and 60cm wide and deployed in groups of three as a more effective alternative for buoys.


Defended building

An existing building occupied as a fighting position, usually incorporating some form of fortification such as sandbagging, shoring up of ceilings or cutting of loopholes in external walls.


GHQ Line

A series of arterial stop lines designed to prevent German forces advancing on London and the industrial Midlands.


Loophole

Embrasure


Nodal Point

Defended road junction(s), usually within a village/town with a Home Guard garrison intended to deny enemy use of the roads. Nodal Points were not to defend the village, but solely the road network. Category 'A' Nodal Points were to hold out for 7 days after invasion without outside assistance.


Pillbox

Generic term for a hardened field defensive structure usually constructed from concrete and/or masonry. Pillboxes were built in numerous types and variants depending on location and role.


Slit trench

Small, narrow trench designed to provide protection against shrapnel and other battlefield hazards. Technically distinct from a weapon pit (which was intended soley as a defensive position) slit trenches were also used as defence works.


Type 24 pillbox

A six-sided (but not a regular hexagon) pillbox. The Type 24 is the most frequently seen pillbox in East Sussex, mostly along stop lines. It can be found in thin wall (30cm) or thick wall (1m) variants.



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Hibbs, Peter Roadblock recce (13) - Eridge Station (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216572/ Accessed: 22 November 2017

The information on this website is intended solely to describe the ongoing research activity of The Defence of East Sussex Project; it is not comprehensive or properly presented. It is therefore NOT suitable as a basis for producing derivative works or surveys!