Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Sulham Valley Part 1

This I discovered was to be the best explore I have had to date. The Sulham Valley runs from Pangbourne on the River Thames to Theale on the River Kennet it comprised of around 23 Type 28 twins  a few Type 28A’s and Type 22’s little of which I knew about at the time.  After seeing some photos on the Internet of the Pangbourne area I decided to set out for myself and log what I found. The valley was done in two parts this is the first one I did on my own. If you wish to follow on Google maps look here Google Map
Looking on the DOB (Defense of Britain) database I have on my laptop’s digital mapping which showed a whole host of green squares indicating some form of defense was there. I knew of a Type28 which was the other side of the rail embankment but left that for another time as it was not on the route I would take.
The first stop was a Type22 just along from the allotments this had what looked like the sluice from a ditch attached to it. No entry was possible as the doorway was bricked up probably due to complaints about youngsters getting up to no good in there but from the outside it looked good condition.
Pangourne Type22
Damaged Type 28 Twin
  From here I walked along the footpath to find a bridge which spanned an old ditch, this may have been part of the deference ditch that was here. The bridge had been replaced with a new one so on to the next pillbox. This was found by following the footpath and turning right by the hedge and following it till you could see the pillbox. On getting there I had thought it was a bit damaged which turned out to be an understatement. One of the embrasures was visible along with a side but had a huge crack in it.  Going round the back was the shock, it was just a pile of rubble in fact one of the embrasures (which I thought was the entrance) was facing 180 degrees out. I wondered how the pillbox became it such a state but have come to the conclusion that it like many others was used for target practice. Not far from this pillbox is another sluice in what is left of a ditch.
Infantry Box
Going on from here you need to set off across the field towards pillbox you can see in the distance, this is an infantry box which looks like an extended Type22. The external part is in good condition which is more that I can say for inside as the cattle have used it. The big thing for me was that next o the pillbox was the base of a second which was easy to see on the ground let alone on Google Earth.  Scanning around I wandered along the River Pang and looked across the field and spotted what I thought was a pillbox. Getting a bit closer confirmed this so it was off in the shortest direction. Not easy as I found myself on the wrong side of a ditch and stream. I managed to get over the fence to be confronted which these rather large hairy beasts with long horns over the field looking at me. Hopping over a second fence gets you to the pillbox, the field is inhabited with our equine friends. There may be a way to visit this one from the road but I have not looked as of yet. The pillbox is also featured in the book Ironsides Line and looked in good condition but when you look through the entrance you see great holes ripped in it and a huge one in the roof, the holes are going into the box as though like I have already said it had been used for target practice.
Type 28 Twin near Tidmarsh

Damage in
I did wonder if they had been experimented on prior to the D Day invasion. Looking from this one I noticed another across the fields but any thought of crossing them went out the window after looking at the horns on the beasts grazing there. I took the footpath round the long way. The place I went to was near Tidmarsh. I walked into a field spotted a pillbox then looked round at another then another and another I did not know which way to go first I was so spoiled for choice so the natural thing to do was follow the footpath.
first of the Type 28 Twins at Tidmarsh
 This lead to the first Type 28 twin which had both embrasure blocked up and had been used by cattle otherwise in good nick, From there I could see another that turned out as I got nearer a pair of Type 28A’s back to back. This again looked in good condition till you go near and you noticed lumps missing and cracks, one even had a hole where what looked like a shell had passed through. Lots of crap found in them including some kids porn.
Tidmarsh Back to Back

Second Tidmarsh Type 28 Twin
It was time to find the next which I could see over the field and as I got nearer I could see it was another Type 28 twin.
More damage could be seen on this one but from there you could see the one over in the horse paddock. Going on from there it was off towards a copse and another Type 28 twin beside a fence like the others it was blocked too even the inside had what looked like shelving in.

Third Type 28 Twin
That done I dithered wondering if it was worth looking for more but by then I had enough excitement for one day and headed off to the car in Pangbourne the second half would have to wait but I will say this it was worth the wait as it held more surprises to come.
More photo's from this  area can be seen here  The Sulham Valley 
You can also read my article on Geograph  

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