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Report - Imber Village - Salisbury Plain 27/12/15

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by shitbucket, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. shitbucket

    shitbucket 28DL Full Member
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    Went on a day out down to Imber village today to test out my new film slr and lensbaby spark. If anyone gets the time to go, i'd recommend you do, it's an amazing place with amazing history. My favourite part of salisbury plain is probably finding a fuckload of spend ammunition. Also in my few visits to salisbury plain i have found some live ammunition. not so much in Imber Village, but more so on the 'main training area' i think it's called.

    • HISTORY
    During the Second World War everyone had to make sacrifices. Many thousands of people lost their homes to enemy action, but when the inhabitants of Imber in Wiltshire lost their homes it was not to the enemy but to the British Army. Not that the houses were destroyed; they weren't. They were just, shall we say, conscripted.
    On November 1st 1943, the inhabitants of Imber were given 47 days notice to leave their village. The War Office needed the village as a place for American forces to practise fighting in built-up areas prior to the D-Day Landings. The villagers did their duty and left their homes; after all, it was only for the duration of the war and everyone was used to making sacrifices. However, when the war ended, the army had become too attached to Imber and decided not to leave.

    Imber was, until then, just another little village in Wiltshire. Historians believe it was first settled by the ancient Britons, probably for sheep farming, and several tracks dating back to Roman times have been found in and around the village. By Saxon times the village of Imber was well known; references have been found to it in a text from 967AD and in the Doomsday book it is listed as having a population of fifty.

    By the time the army took the village over, the population was 150. Being located in the middle of Salisbury Plain, Imber never did have a very large population. There was no real reason for people to settle here unless they were working the surrounding fields or providing services for those who did. Imber's highest population figure was recorded in the census of 1851, when the total reached 450. For the most part, however, Imber was a sleepy, little agricultural village surrounded by fields.

    But others had their eyes on this land. In 1897, the War Office began buying up parcels of land to the east of Imber to use as a training ground for the army. By 1902 they owned 43,000 acres. After the First World War, during the agricultural depression of the 1920's and 1930's, the war office took advantage of farmers' need for cash and bought up huge tracts of land for relatively low prices. Between 1928 and 1932 they not only owned all the land surrounding Imber, they also owned the land the village sat on. An area of Salisbury plain measuring 25 miles by 10 miles was now in the hands of the army.
    Thus no-one could really complain when their landlords, the army, asked them to leave Imber. At first, they were told that the army would only need the land for six months; then it became the duration of the war. The residents weren't given much in the way of compensation, but then again, no-one really expected it. What they did expect was to be able to return to their homes and businesses after the war.

    At first, it seemed as though they would be able to. Shortly after the war the army made attempts to re-build and repair the houses that had been damaged during their manoeuvres, but then they decided to not to let the villagers back.
    The exiled villagers didn't take this lying down. They organised rallies and eventually took the army to court. The battle for Imber continued until 1961 when a Public Inquiry awarded Imber to the army. Shortly afterwards the House of Lords ruled that although Imber was now a vital army training area, the church of St Giles, Imber's Parish church founded in the 13th century, would be maintained and be open for services for people for at least one day a year, the Sunday closest to St Giles' Day.

    And so it is. In fact, Imber is open to the public for fifty days a year. Visitors can access it during the Easter and Christmas periods and throughout the month of August. But, if apart from the church, most of the village has been destroyed, is there anything left worth seeing there?

    The answer is yes. The village, although now somewhat decrepit, still stands. It is, in fact, a museum you can walk around. Where else in Britain can you get such a feel for life gone by? Here you can walk along the street with the stream running through and experience, albeit briefly, rural life as it once was. The church, although damaged by lightning in 2003, still stands and although the parish of Imber has been abolished, the church is still consecrated and is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust. Interestingly, despite having no registered electors, Imber is still represented in Parliament by the MP for Westbury.

    And if you do go to visit Imber, why not also take the time to see some more of Salisbury Plain? This is not a barren, empty army training ground; far from it. Because this land is in the control of the army, it has not been developed. In this way an archaeological landscape that dates back over 6000 years has been preserved for all to see. Salisbury Plain contains Britain's largest collection of ancient long and round barrows. It also contains some 2,300 ancient monuments, 550 of which are protected by law and six of which are classified as important fragile sites. Some 50,000 acres of the Plain have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the remainder of the Plain is home to a wide variety of animals and plants that have been lost to progress in the rest of the country. A visit to Imber and Salisbury Plain is a journey back in time in more ways than one.

    Getting to visit Salisbury Plain is surprisingly easy. The Army is keen to give public access to its land on public rights of way. The only areas that are out of bounds are those areas where live firing is taking place. Simply check your map and off you go to discover a Britain that for the rest of us was lost over 60 years ago.


    The School
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    Some live 5.56mm blanks i found in imber village (no i didnt take them home)

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    Inside the church
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    Photo from my new lensbaby spark selective focus lens:)
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    [​IMG]Another one from my lensbaby spark
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    Exterior of the Church
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Any internals?
     
  3. Idavoll

    Idavoll Who?
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    When the church is open they tend to have security policing the village and keeping people out of the buildings but they're all shells now. Even the buildings which are original (the school, the pub and the Manor house) are bare.

    @shitbucket pleasantly surprised that you found ammo. The place used to have lots lying around which I used to collect as a kid, as well as big metal boxes, signs and old smoke grenades, but in recent years the army seems to clean up after themselves. :/
     
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  4. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Yeah we were lucky apparently as when we went there, there was exactly zero security presence which is/was fairly unheard of. Manor house was an unexpected bonus though!
     
  5. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    NATO 5.56mm rounds as fired from the SA80 rifle and the larger NATO 7.62mm round as fired from the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) you would had collected there. Plenty of (usually spent) L83A1 smoke grenades lying around to. Never noticed the army now cleaning up after themselves and all sorts of kit can be found such as full Bergans and webbing belts - not that I ever take anything home and I believe you when you said you didn't take anything home!

    Christmas stand-down is the time to hit Salisbury Plain and these two weeks we have almost full access to anywhere. The plain is now full of off-road motor bikers and 4-wheel drive vehicles. But here's a quick warning, all motor vehicle have to be road legal, and vehicles without insurance or MOT will be confiscated. Last year, dozens of vehicles were confiscated in a clampdown.

    The Imber Ranges Perimeter public footpath is 31 miles long and is open every day of the year. It's an interesting one or two day walk (or in my case, a half-day run). Nobody ever seems to do it. Whenever I'm on the trail, I never see anyone! Maps and route cards can be found on the internet.

    One other warning: people were arrested inside the Manor House at Imber at the Easter stand down. Be careful.
     
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  6. shitbucket

    shitbucket 28DL Full Member
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    yeah true, not so good at it on some parts of salisbury plain though. at home i've collected a LOT of spent blanks, an ammunition tin, fired parachute flares, used smoke grenades, it's crazy the things they leave lying around!
     
  7. shitbucket

    shitbucket 28DL Full Member
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    wow! you know a lot! the NATO 7.62mm area also fired from the l192a1 sharpshooter rifle. i never take anything live home, just usually spent ammunition so hopefully in the future i can get some money from it.
     
  8. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    A quick internet search tells me that scrap brass is worth from £0.90 to £2.80 per kg. Hmm is it time for a career change me thinks.
     
  9. shitbucket

    shitbucket 28DL Full Member
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    ah shit, won't be getting rich any time soon then
     
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