Project ID: SMR1043
Location: Blackham, East Sussex
Project date: 2013
Part of the GHQ Line of pillboxes runs through Withyham Parish, following the railway line from Uckfield and then the River Medway. The parish council invited us to clear vegetation from, and record a selection of them.
Description: This pillbox is one of a pair that were sited close together for mutal defence. A34 sits on the flood plain by the River Medway, while its neighbour, A35, is on high ground overlooking it. These pillboxes were worked on concurrently, a key task being to clear vegetation from between them, thereby putting them back into context with each other.
There were two key issues with A34; being sat on a flood plain the interior was flooded to a depth of 30cm. The second problem was potential damage caused by a dead tree that had fallen against the structure.
The interior was baled out; this was only temporary as the river floods it every year. One weekend we were working the water was waist deep around the pillbox, but the landowner said that serious flooding can completely submerge it! Unlike its neighbour on the high ground, A34 was not built with a drain incorporated, suggesting it was built first and the drain added as an afterthought to its partner.
Removal of the tree and clearing the roof took a couple of days but was eventually achieved. With the vegetation between it and its neighbour cleared, a good appreciation of how the two pillboxes worked to cover each other's blindspots was gained.