Posted: 24 August 2011 08:46

A walk along a road in Fairlight revealed some unrecorded evidence at the site of a WW2 roadblock.

I haven't investigated a site as part of the Roadblock Project for the best part of a year and I stupidly forgot to visit this one on my first visit to Fairlight, particularly as it's right by the church that featured so prominently that day.

The photo below shows the Lych Gate of the church with the roadblock just on the brow of the hill and on a slight bend in the road - a textbook location.

Roadblock Recce (33) - Fairlight

The 1941 Roadblock Report lists five pimples and 15 buoys at this location. I was therefore pleased to find two pimples still in situ, albeit overgrown with ivy.

These pimples were on the church side of the road, and were intended to stop vehicles bypassing the buoys on the road surface (they were movable) by mounting the verge.

The three missing pimples would have been on the opposite side of the road, but were probably removed as they would have obstructed the pavement.

Roadblock Recce (33) - Fairlight

Roadblock Recce (33) - Fairlight

The report also states that this roadblock was to be bolstered by the addition of 18 cylinders and 14 sockets for hairpin rails.

This represents quite a substantial block for a comparatively narrow road, but then it is an important road, linking the potential landing beaches at Pett with the high ground (and vantage point of the church tower) with Ore and Hastings.

For this reason, this and the road leading to the coastguard cottages formed part of the grid system of stop lines; another tactical feature to defend.

No further roadblock evidence was found, so it's not known whether the extra obstacles were ever emplaced.

Shortly after the report recommending the enhancement was compiled, the military boundaries changed, the area to the east of the church being passed from the East Sussex Divisional Area to Kent.

There was also no visible evidence of how the block was to be defended, but I suspect that the bulk of any defence works were on the north side of the road. I say this because the south side is the churchyard and consecrated ground and religious buildings were out of bounds for offensive military activity unless absolutely necessary. This was to avoid the Germans destroying every church in case it was a strongpoint. The church tower (and many others in East Sussex) was used as an observation post, but was not a defended position; weapons were supposed to be left at the church door.

A stop line, an observation post, a roadblock with surviving evidence - you can find a lot of history in 100 square metres if you look closely!

- 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.


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.



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Hibbs, Peter Roadblock Recce (33) - Fairlight (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216687/ Accessed: 22 September 2017

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