Wartime Constructions

Anti-Aircraft Gun and machine-gun pillbox on the Village Green, Hastings Road, and other locations.

Two reports of equipment on the village green – (1) Anti-aircraft gun.   (2) pillbox machine gun post
It is reported that the anti-aircraft gun may have been on a transporter to enable easy movement around the county.
Anti-aircraft shell cases found on the green in 2017 from an archeology survey.

 

Simon Roberts remembers the demolition of the pillbox by a gang of men with pneumatic drills. Kathryn Franklin estimates the demolition in 1953.
Very little material or photos.

 

Above:    An old postcard of the green showing the position of the base.  Supplied by Simon Roberts

 

Above:   Aerial view from 1940 showing the pillbox opposite the Camden Arms car park.
Supplied by Simon Roberts  – image originating from Google Earth

Further Comments from Simon Roberts –  “We lived in Pembury for 21 yrs from 1951 and moved in to our house at Christmas with no central heating and gigantic ice ferns on the inside of the windows every morning… We were the new occupants of the large white house next to the church just down the road from the Camden Hotel. In those days the church had a spire. I should like to add some information here….and that is that there was a pillbox machine gun post at the top right hand corner of the green…  I enclose a screen shot from Google Earth from 1940 as well as one of your fotos of the green where I’ve drawn in (rather roughly) where I remembered the artifact having been.  I remember the thing being demolished by a gang of men with pneumatic drills and that they spent at least a couple of days at it….    Just for the record there was another one in one corner of our garden looking down Hastings Rd.”

 

 

Below: the next 3 photos describe the location of another machine-gun pillbox known to Simon Roberts.

Above:  the location on a modern aerial photo – the far corner of the garden of 2 Hastings Road

Further Comments from Simon Roberts regarding this photo –“Here is a screenshot of 2 Hastings Rd (where once we lived) with a square drawn round the location of the pillbox – from the road –it looks rather as if it may still be there as I should think the entire corner would have to be demolished in order to get rid of it and the cost would be prohibitive just as a matter of interest and because the building was occupied by the MOD  the garden was  covered with at least three nissen huts.”

 

 

Above:  the corner of the garden of 2 Hastings Road – the site of the pillbox behind this fence.

Above:  1940 aerial photo of a that part of Hastings Road.  A structure can be seen at the site of the pillbox.

 


Above:  1963  OS map of upper Hastings Road highlighting Postillions.
Note the small square structure (pillbox) close to the road.  This feature does not appear on the 1938 OS map
In September 2018 the owners of Postillions kindly granted this web site permission to take a few photographs.
The structure is tucked into a tight corner of the garden and greatly obscured by shrubs and foliage. External photography is limited.

 

Before discussing the images it is worth looking at the plan below and the layout of the pillbox.
It is square, has one doorway, accessed by a modern metal ladder, and 3 apertures for guns and observation.
Above: a plan of the pillbox indicating the entrance doorway (D) and the gun apertures.

The three apertures are different in the structure and size. They are identified in the photographs –

A –  Has a long and deep, vertical cut-away – higher than B.  Faces toward the High St and village green.
B  –  Similar to A but lower – has a red border painted around it.  Faces across Hastings Road.
C – Small and blocked off – no incoming daylight due to external increase in surrounding land.  Faces toward Bo-Peep.

 

Above:  the best external view.  Looking at Face A

 

Above:  the doorway / entrance accessed via a ladder behind the railings.   Face D on plan.

Above:  Looking out of A toward the High St and Village Green.

 

Above:  Looking at the corner between  A & B.

 

Above:  Looking out of B across Hastings Road.

 

Above:  Looking at the corner between B & C.

 

Above:  Looking out of C down Hastings Road toward Bo-Peep corner.

The photos above taken by Tony Nicholls on 1 Sept 2018 by kind permission of the owners.

 

 

 


Pillbox at Blackhurst Lane near its junction with Tonbridge Road.      Photographed and supplied by Melvyn Cole

 

Pillbox at junction of Pembury Walks and Old Church Road.      Photographed and supplied by Melvyn Cole

              Precise Grid Ref:  – TQ 62642 42557            Latitude:  51.159150        Longitude:   0.324500

Further comment from Melvyn Cole –   “There is another just over the Pembury’s border with Frant.  Just past Dundale Farm, it was originally disguised as a cottage.”

 

Above:  A map of Pembury parish showing the locations of the 4 known pill boxes

 

The map on the Tunbridge Wells Planning Application web site gives very good detail of two of the ‘lost’ pillboxes known to Melvyn Cole.
Sections of the Tunbridge Wells Planning Maps are shown below.

Above:  Tunbridge Wells Council map showing the truncated part of Blackhurst Lane.
This is now a footpath to the pedestrian bridge over the A21. Bridge not shown.
The small structure to the left of Blackhurst Lane (close to the A21 road) is an incorrect location.
Melvyn Cole places the pillbox in the region of the red cross.

 

Above:  Tunbridge Wells Council Map showing the junction of Pembury Walks and Old Church Road.

Below:  detail of the above map showing greater detail of the pillbox.

 

There are various web sites that show pillboxes – typically –

http://www.pillboxesuk.co.uk/
www.pillbox-study-group.org.uk/
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Pillboxes_in_Kent
https://www.homefrontlegacy.org.uk/wp/case-studies/identifying-first-world-war-pillboxes-in-the-uk/

Be warned some of these sites are tediously slow and awkward to navigate.
Most show pillboxes as concrete structures – very few brick built.


Steve Morton found this web site – https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/  that indicated 4 pillboxes in Pembury.

Below are extracts relating to each unit.  They are rather vague and lack any useful detail.
Accuracy is dubious as they claim construction as reinforced concrete, but recent photos show brick construction.

Greater precision map locations have been determined.    Our additional comments are shown in red.

 

 

  • PILLBOX (TYPE FW3/24) (ID: S0008299), Pembury, Kent, England
    E of Pembury, NE of Tunbridge Wells., Condition: Removed (Grid ref: TQ 626 408)
    Pembury nodal point
    GHQ Line (East Sussex/Kent – East Branch)
    Type 24 pillbox. DEMOLISHED.           (Source: Field Visit 1997)
  • Type of site PILLBOX (TYPE FW3/24)
    Location E of Pembury, NE of Tunbridge Wells.         assumed to be the one on the village green as it is the only one known to have been demolished.
    Area Pembury, Kent, England
    Grid reference TQ 626 408                             Poor grid reference precision puts this between Hastings Rd and Lower Green Rd.
    .                                               This is location –   51.142946, 0.321464    TQ624407   on Village Green
    Period WW2
    Condition Removed                                       Destruction witnessed by Simon Roberts  c1952
    Materials Reinforced Concrete
    Recorder Deere, Peter (Pillbox Study Group)
    Defence grouping Pembury nodal point – Defences of Pembury Category ‘B’ nodal point. Cassini ref. R0659. [Source: List of Nodal Points in Eastern Command, 1940 – PRO WO 199/544].
    GHQ Line (East Sussex/Kent – East Branch) – Section of the GHQ Line running from Crowborough to Tonbridge, passing east of Tunbridge Wells.
    DOB site reference: S0008299
    Event Field Visit, During 1997     Construction, In the period 1940 1941        Destruction, Before 1997    (c1952)

==================================================================================

 

  • NODAL POINT (ID: S0009215), Pembury, Kent, England
    Pembury, Condition: Unknown (Grid ref: TQ 62 40)
    Pembury nodal point
    GHQ Line (East Sussex/Kent – East Branch)    Pembury – Category ‘B’ nodal point.   (Source: Document 1940)
  • Official Name Pembury nodal point
    Type of site NODAL POINT
    Location Pembury                                                     Garden of 2 Hastings Road.  Witnessed by Tony Nicholls  2018
    Area Pembury, Kent, England
    Grid reference TQ 62 40                                  Poor grid reference precision, but nearest is  2 Hastings Road.
                                                        This is the location:    51.142460, 0.323829          TQ626407
    Period WW2
    Condition Unknown
    Materials Unknown
    Recorder (Defence of Britain Project)
    Defence grouping Pembury nodal point – Defences of Pembury Category ‘B’ nodal point. Cassini ref. R0659. [Source: List of Nodal Points in Eastern Command, 1940 – PRO WO 199/544].
    GHQ Line (East Sussex/Kent – East Branch) – Section of the GHQ Line running from Crowborough to Tonbridge, passing east of Tunbridge Wells.
    DOB site reference: S0009215
    Reference 1940 List of Nodal Points in Eastern Command
    Event Construction, During 1940

==================================================================================

 

  • PILLBOX (ID: S0009599), Pembury, Kent, England
    Pembury., Condition: Extant but condition unknown (Grid ref: TQ 6128 4135)
    Pembury nodal point
    GHQ Line (East Sussex/Kent – East Branch)       Pillbox.    (Source: Book 1977)
  • Type of site PILLBOX
    Location Pembury.                                  Between Blackhurst Lane & Tonbridge Road.     Witnessed by Melvyn Cole  2010
    Area Pembury, Kent, England
    Grid reference TQ 6128 4135          Good Grid Reference –    Between Blackhurst Lane & Tonbridge Road
    Period WW2
    Condition Extant but condition unknown
    Materials Reinforced Concrete
    Recorder Bennett, D. H. (Kent Defence Research Group)
    Defence grouping Pembury nodal point – Defences of Pembury Category ‘B’ nodal point. Cassini ref. R0659. [Source: List of Nodal Points in Eastern Command, 1940 – PRO WO 199/544].
    GHQ Line (East Sussex/Kent – East Branch) – Section of the GHQ Line running from Crowborough to Tonbridge, passing east of Tunbridge Wells.
    DOB site reference: S0009599
    Reference 1977 A Handbook of Kent’s Defences
    Event Construction, In the period 1940 1941

==================================================================================

 

  • PILLBOX (TYPE FW3/24) (ID: S0008298), Pembury, Kent, England
    Near A264 road, Pembury, NE of Tunbridge Wells., Condition: Extant but condition unknown (Grid ref: TQ 605 402)
    Pembury nodal point
    GHQ Line (East Sussex/Kent – East Branch)     Type 24 pillbox.     (Source: Field Visit 1997)
  • Type of site PILLBOX (TYPE FW3/24)
    Location Near A264 road, Pembury, NE of Tunbridge Wells.          NOT Pembury – this is Tunbridge Wells
    Area Pembury, Kent, England
    Grid reference TQ 605 402                             Poor grid reference precision puts this at A264 near Halls Hole Road junction – Tunbridge Wells!.
    Period WW2
    Condition Extant but condition unknown
    Materials Reinforced Concrete
    Recorder Deere, Peter (Pillbox Study Group)
    Defence grouping Pembury nodal point – Defences of Pembury Category ‘B’ nodal point. Cassini ref. R0659. [Source: List of Nodal Points in Eastern Command, 1940 – PRO WO 199/544].
    GHQ Line (East Sussex/Kent – East Branch) – Section of the GHQ Line running from Crowborough to Tonbridge, passing east of Tunbridge Wells.
    DOB site reference: S0008298
    Event Field Visit, During 1997       Construction, In the period 1940 1941

Note:  The pillbox at the junction of Pembury Walks and Old Church Road is not registered with the four above.

 

Google Maps can be used to pin-point a precise location.  Click the location on Google Map to get the Latitude & Longitude.
Grid Reference Locations determined here –   https://gridreferencefinder.com/      or  here –  https://latlngfinder.com/b.php

The web site dealing with Tunbridge Wells Planning Applications also has a good map with interactive Longitude & Latitude.
Local Government web sites may change at any time so there is a reluctance to provide a direct link here, but –
navigate to the local planning applications web site a find the ‘Property’ map.

 


Bombs over Pembury
Below is a map of the approximate locations of bombs dropped during World War II  (1939-1945).
Data gathered by Melvyn Cole and others from memories and records of residents, local newspapers and archive material.
There are also reports of someone being killed and flying bombs passing over Pembury.
It is noted that during the war newspapers were not allowed to print addresses or street locations of fallen bombs.
Until a better part of the web site is found this map seems best suited on this page.

 

 

Page compiled by Tony Nicholls                       Maps created by Tony Nicholls


IMPORTANT !!!     This needs your help.  All contributions will be credited.

If you have any further information or corrections please contact me –
Tony Nicholls      email:   history@pembury.org