Posted: 26 October 2008 23:06

I briefly went AWOL from a family outing to Isfield in order to visit 3 roadblock locations; I also chanced upon a possible loopholed wall.

Roadblock recce

The Roadblock Report lists the first location at this bridge over the River Uck with cylinders, buoys and sockets, although no rails ever seem to have been delivered to the site to be fitted into the latter.

150m further down the road by Isfield Mill (visible in the centre of the photo above), another block was situated near the bridge that carries the road over the GHQ Line. All stop line crossings were mandatory locations for blocks, although again, the sockets in the road here appear to have had no rails to put in them.

Roadblock recce

A Type 24 pillbox sits on private land beside the road about midway between these two bridges in order to cover them both. There are many others in the vicinity, including a Type 28, although I only saw the one Type 24.

The third and final block was about another 200m north, near Isfield Place; I'm guessing it was sited just south of the driveway which meets the road at bottom right in the photo below. No sockets here, but the 11 pimples that once adorned the roadside have long gone, as has all physical evidence that any roadblocks were ever here.

Roadblock recce

An interesting feature is a possible loopholed wall that covers this roadblock. I say "possible", as I'm just not sure at this time.

The wall in question is actually the Isfield Pound, which is the brick structure in the photo above; an embrasure that can cover this roadblock is just to the right of the '30' sign. The photo below shows the view looking north towards the Isfield Place roadblock; note the embrasure in the south wall of the pound.

Roadblock recce

The village pound was simply a place that stray animals could be impounded and released to the owner upon payment of a fine; the medieval forerunner of wheel-clamping. Never park your cow on a double yellow line.

How old the Isfield Pound is, I don't know; it's an open brick structure with a single gate, but it's the embrasures that are confusing me. The southern one has the appearance of an 'arrow slit' or musket loophole while that in the north wall (covering the roadblock) is only half as tall and could be easily mistaken for a WW2 embrasure, apart from the fact that both are formed by the use of dressed stone set in the brickwork.

Roadblock recce

A village pound has only one purpose, and a quick internet search has not revealed any other examples that have been made defensible by the use of embrasures in the walls. I cannot see any other useful purpose for openings in a walled compound with no roof and therefore no need for windows or ventilation.

I don't know when village pounds finally fell into disuse, but they were still in use in the 19th century. If this was a case of the Victorians converting the structure into a folly, I would expect to see some sort of outrageous crenellations or other embellishment rather than just a pair of plain arrow slits that don't give any special feel of antiquity.

A plaque on the wall states that the pound was restored in 1990, but again, I have no reason to believe the embrasures were added then, so for the moment, I'm being cautious about the use of the pound as a defensive position.

However, the external view of the northern embrasure below appears to indicate a 'bodge job' with a small piece of stone being used to form a platform for the uprights instead of a full-width bespoke piece of masonry being used. The southern embrasure has no stone sill.

Roadblock recce

There's no shortage of pillboxes in the area, but as the photo below shows, the northern embrasure is perfectly located to cover the road; a hefty sandbag wall inside the pound, with some sort of overhead cover would make this a good defensive position.

Roadblock recce

I need to find out what restoration work was carried out in 1990, the age of the pound and whether anyone remembers the local defences in 1940-41 before I can be convinced that the pound was a defensive position.

If anyone can enlighten me about the pound and the embrasures, please let me know!

- 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.


Embrasure

A loophole or slit that permits observation and/or weapons to be fired through a wall or similar solid construction.


GHQ Line

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


Loophole

Embrasure


Loopholed wall

An existing (e.g. garden) wall into which a loophole has been made by the removal of bricks or stones. Usually applied to freestanding walls as opposed to walls in buildings, which are known as defended buildings.


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.


Pimples

Small anti-tank block in the form of a truncated pyramid. Pimples were used to extend anti-tank obstacles and roadblocks and were intended for use on soft ground.


Sockets

Concrete-lined shafts dug into road surfaces into which rails or RSJs (hairpin or straight) could be inserted to form a roadblock. When not in use, a wooden cover was placed over each socket.


Stop line

A physical continuous anti-tank barrier, normally a river and/or railway line, often defended by pillboxes. Stop line crossings (roads, railways and bridges) were to be made impassable.


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 (14) - Isfield (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216575/ Accessed: 23 September 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!