What a visit this one was! We set off early and returned slightly later than usual but it was worth it; it gave us a good ‘old taste of derelict buildings and urban exploration. It was like a BTP theme park as Liam said! We took nearly 350 photo’s between us and our documentary, which we are still editing, is an exclusive 30 minutes long!
We started at Southend and visited a disguised pillbox next to an abandoned industrial area that is planned to be demolished and have a hotel built on its grounds – lets hope the pillbox stays! The brick wall appears to be of classic Southend Victorian origin, which appears to have later had a brick removed in order that the pillbox built behind it could remain covert, firing through the allegedly normal wall. The Germans would have been pretty confused! The pillbox was visible through a gap along from the wall, and the top of it peeped out over the top of the wall itself. Apparently the entrance of the pillbox is bricked up although we couldn’t get in anyway to the site.
Across the road were two ‘anti-tank blocks’ (a.k.a. pimples or Dragon’s teeth), embedded into the seawall. one featured a plaque (nice work) explaining the block’s purpose, stating over 1,000 of these blocks lined Southend seafront in the 1940s. Their purpose would be to block the shores from any German vehicles trying to drive into the mainland.
Next we took a look at the industrial site which used to be behind the walls of the pillbox. A jetty existed, up until 2007, built for the original pre-1940 industrial site, and also used by the 1970s industrial site. On the end of this jetty was a WW2 observation post, kinda like a big pillbox which was used for watching for invaders, rather than shooting at them.
We then had a look from the seawall at the ‘Mulberry Harbour’, split in half and stranded out in the sea. many people visit it out on speedboats e.t.c., or even walk out when the tide is exceptionally low. It was basically a concrete harbour to be afloat near the D-Day beaches, in order to work as a supply base for the allied invasion. Rumour has it this is where Canvey’s concrete barge drifted from. Unfortunatley it never made it to French waters, as http://www.southendtimeline.com tells us:
D-Day Relic – The Pheonix, mulberry harbour one of 135 units that were built on the banks of the river Thames. This particular unit was one of several that were anchored in the Thames awaiting movement round to Dungeness on the Kent coastline, having broken away from its anchor the Phoenix ran aground & broke into 2 pieces where it has remained.
It can be seen clearly today as this below, which is our picture (the one of it close up to the right is courtesy of http://www.southendtimeline.com.
After this look around in Southend, we proceeded down to Shoebury ranges attached to the garrison, now known as ‘Gunners Park’ (I just can’t think why!??). Keep an eye out for this possibly six-part epic, as it’ll be the focus of Beyond the Point over the coming few weeks!
As for now, go to our Youtube Channel for this part of the adventure on video as a documentary (sorry the wind makes it hard to hear):