Posted: 13 March 2014 15:12

This week sees the eighth anniversary of the Defence of East Sussex Project! The past year has flown by, with some fantastic opportunities presenting themselves.

Once again, time has flown and I see from my piece from last year that I have made some progress.

Social Media

I wrote a year ago that I hadn't got to grips with Twitter as much as I'd like to; I'm now tweeting almost every day and getting enormous value from it!

Eight Years

The power of social media really hit home in February when I tweeted the photo at right, showing how much cliff erosion had occurred at Birling Gap in 2014 alone, shaded in red.

After hundreds of retweets the local media picked up on the story; the following day I woke up to find my photo being discussed on local BBC radio.

The local papers asked to print it, and it appeared on numerous media websites and BBC local TV news! It demonstrates how a picture that tells a story can grasp the imagination - and I very nearly didn't post it!


Eight Years

I've been visiting Birling Gap lately as part of my research into the anti-tank gunnery ranges there. I've found some interesting archaeology in plain view, but the heavy winter storms have closed beach access for the foreseeable future.

A map I found in the archives shows the locations of eight concrete bunkers used to house the machinery to run the moving targets; the photo at right shows the roof of one of them.

The great thing is that the construction materials and methods fit perfectly with the plans!

However, most of my archaeological pursuits have been with Sussex Military History Society, who have had some fantastic projects running this year.

The main project has been recording pillboxes and defence works in Withyham Parish.

I'll let you read all about it on the SMHS website, but the photo below is one of my favourites and shows the view from the embrasure of a Type 24 pillbox looking down on its neighbour. A lot was learned from setting up the Bren gun on its tripod!

Eight Years

There's a lot more to come from this and other projects, so watch this space!

TNA Research

The past year has seen the second highest number of visits to the National Archives - 18 in all, viewing 676 files. Visits over the past eight years now total 110, drawing 2,273 files.


I'm currently rebuilding the entire website and my databases! I built the site back in 2006 using the Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP) programming language and it's continually evolved ever since.

As the project itself has expanded many times, I felt that I needed to go back and re-evaluate my data structure and re-normalise to make it more efficient. Had I known from the outset how big things would get, then I might have saved myself a lot of effort now, but I've learned a lot in eight years!

I'm currently rebuilding everything using the PHP language with MySQL database. The classic ASP I have been using is getting on and it's time to move to technology that is better suited for a web environment.

I have no idea as to when the new site might go live though!

3D models

My 3D models are proving as popular as ever, with several in the pipeline. The most comprehensive is of one of the Type 24 pillboxes at Withyham, shown below. This has been based on a survey comprising over 1,200 recorded measurements with some absolutely stunning data as a result! I now think about pillboxes in a completely different way, which I'll reveal in due course!

Eight Years


I've recently had two articles published, with a third in the pipeline, but the big question is: when will I be starting to write books? Given my previous failed predictions and false dawns, I'm not going to commit.

However, I was made redundant (again) in 2014, and so I find myself with an opportunity to finally get started. I reckon I have enough material for at least 12 books, but don't hold your breath!

- Pete



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


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.


Sussex Military History Society


The National Archives (formerly The Public Records Office or PRO).

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 Eight Years (2024) Available at: Accessed: 5 March 2024

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!