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 Pembury Walks at the junction with Church Road.      Photographed and supplied by Melvyn Cole

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.”

 

 

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.

While it is assumed that these Pembury pillboxes are WW2 vintage, they could be WW1

 

 

 


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.

 

 

 


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