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Report - Ongar Hill Coastal Defence Battery, Norfolk - 12/10/2008

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by SaltGeorge, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. SaltGeorge

    SaltGeorge Сталкер
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    My first report.. I hope it's of interest to someone..

    Built to house a pair of 6" guns the battery was found to be too far from deep water to usefully serve a purpose, although it must have commanded the approaches to the river at King's Lynn which was still a busy port until after the war. The guns were ultimately moved to Northumberland.

    The site comprises a Battery Observation Post, two substantial gunhouses, magazine and a close-defence blockhouse (pillbox) to a non-standard design.

    The three storey Battery Observation Post..

    [​IMG]


    Inside the 1st floor has been removed, although the concrete upper floor is still in place, with signs that at least someone has managed to secure a rope ladder at some point in the past. The whole tower reverberates with the buzzing of bees..

    [​IMG]


    The brace of gunhouses had the guns mounted directly to the roof, but these are too overgrown to detect any mountings. The first is invisible beyond the Magazine under the tangle of brambles. Only the block-like shape of the bramble patch gave it's location away. But like all the buildings it is accessible through at least one door.

    [​IMG]


    Inside the Magazine is divided by a blast wall with access from both ends.

    [​IMG]


    The overgrown West entrance to the first gunhouse, looking out..

    [​IMG]


    At the far east end of the site, beyond the second gunhouse is a lone pillbox defending against the landward side..

    [​IMG]

    The absence of defences overlooking the seaward side can perhaps be explained by the build dates of the sea wall. I'm still confirming researching when each stretch of wall was built, but it would appear that the post was built into the seawall of 1917 or 1925 and that various phases of seawall were built right up until very recently.


    And now for the obligatory artistic shot of debris inside.. completely un-staged.. for some reason there are broken butterfly wings throughout all the buildings.

    [​IMG]


    I've still got a few pictures to work through, mostly of the interiors. The roof construction looks interesting, some weer obviously poured on-site over corrugated iron formers, others perhaps over wood.

    In general the site is in not bad condition.. it's so far out of the way that local neds wouldn't find it worth the effort. This is evidenced by the number of birds nests in the ventilation ports. There is only a little litter, none recent, and very little graffiti.

    The complete site can be clearly seen on Google Earth. The Magazine is to the west, immediately to the east invisible under a tangle of brambles is the first gunhouse. The BOP can be clearly seen next to the track, with the second gunhouse just to the south-east. The close-defence blockhouse is about 50m to the south-east down the line of the track, on the south side of the track. Access is easy with a carpark just a short distance away and a public footpath adjacent.
     

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  2. SaltGeorge

    SaltGeorge Сталкер
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    Re: Ongar Hill Coastal Defence Battery, Norfolk - REPORT - 12/10/2008

    The missing roof picture showing the shutter marks from the pour..

    [​IMG]

    Looking out through a loophole.. again note the corrugations from the former (it looked like the former was left in place in most cases as there were several loopholes where the former had partially fallen but was still present).

    [​IMG]


    Showing the site as it sits in the landscape from the coastal side.. I've still to determine if the farmland to the front was existing at the time the battery was built or if this was a later seawall enclosure.

    [​IMG]



    I'm guessing there is no way to edit the original post to link to the Flickr set rather than the Photobucket versions without waiting to get full member status..
     
  3. SaltGeorge

    SaltGeorge Сталкер
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    Re: Ongar Hill Coastal Defence Battery, Norfolk - REPORT - 12/10/2008

    One more.. I've been directed to a 1946 aeriel photograph of the site, it looks like there could be one or two more structures associated with the complex. It's also now clear that at the time it was built it was stood into the active seawall with open marshes to the front. The modern fields are a more recent enclosure.

    [​IMG]

    The white square in the centre is (I think) just to the north of the BOP.
     
  4. SaltGeorge

    SaltGeorge Сталкер
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    Re: Ongar Hill Coastal Defence Battery, Norfolk - REPORT - 12/10/2008

    Ongar Hill is just to the north-west of King's Lynn. You can spot the site on Google Earth, and it's marked on the Defence of Britain dataset for GE (although it's marked adrift 100m off it's actual position).

    It's about 30-40 mins from the closest car park, you'll need good boots as the path is uneven, rutted and muddy if it's damp. The buildings themselves are dry and weatherproof.

    Seeing the '46 photograph I'm now sure I missed at least one structure, and that the DoB description is incomplete. I'll head back in the New Year when the frost has knocked back some of the overgrowth. In the meantime I'll be off looking for the Decoy Airfield near Setchey, and I'd like to get up to Titchwell and Brancaster for the coastal emplacements there.
     
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