Posted: 8 August 2009 22:30

After a break from surveying roadblocks, I got back into the swing of things by driving out to St. Leonards to investigate some sites in the area.

The Roadblock Report lists 19 blocks in the Hastings area; as they're mostly in groups but widely dispersed across the town I only managed to visit four today as I was also looking at defended localities in St. Leonards and Hastings.

Whenever I'm chasing roadblocks I always look to see what else is in the area as I'm investigating the overall scheme of defence, although I try not to get too distracted. However, I found today that several roadblocks not surprisingly were situated close to defended localities, and though I had studied maps and locations in preparation, not all of these connections were apparent until I was out in the field.

First stop was in Bulverhythe and a roadblock near a bridge beside a petrol station. No sign of the 35 sockets, hairpin rails or pimples listed as being here in 1941. Moving 200m along the road, I found myself in a defended locality and I then realised that the roadblock could be covered by one of the many pillboxes that were once here. I only made this connection when actually on the spot; the defence scheme that had maps of the localities didn't mark the roadblocks.

Roadblock recce

A second roadblock within the locality had no remnants of sockets, rails or buoys, neither did I find anything at a third some distance away.

I then went in search of a fourth that was seemingly never constructed. It was to be sited to block this bridge over a deep railway cutting.

Roadblock recce

The Roadblock Report indicates that 60 cylinders, 50 sockets, 50 hairpins and 14 pimples would be required to create the block. However, the accompanying notes for this roadblock simply state "Proposed. Question effectiveness." Confusingly, the report gives the status of this block as 'Current' (i.e., not redundant) although permission to proceed to bring the block up to standard was not granted.

I was intrigued as to why the report questions the effectiveness of a block here as there seems to be no easy way to quickly circumvent it. However, the possibility of a detour downhill and across the railway line elsewhere perhaps rendered this block of less value.

Unfortunately there were no surviving elements of any of the roadblocks I visited today and I'm sure that there'll be many more days like this. However, you still learn a lot just by being on the spot, concrete present or not.

- 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.


Defence scheme

A military plan of defence for a specified area. Defence Schemes were issued at numerous levels. Defence Schemes were later known as Plans to Defeat Invasion on the orders of General Montgomery.


Defended locality

An area defended by a force (e.g. a platoon) occupying a series of defence works, normally within a barbed wire perimeter. Localities were designed for all-round defence and usually fitted in with a coordinated scheme of neighbouring localities.


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.



This site is copyright © Peter Hibbs 2006 - 2017. All rights reserved.

Hibbs, Peter Roadblock recce (24) - St. Leonards (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216631/ 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!