About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

S is for Southwood

All my life I've been surrounded by the military, I was an Admiral's Grandson, Soldier's 'brat' and would have been the nephew of a Navy Flier if he hadn't died, stuck to the giant-firework that is a hooked-up missile on the ranges off Lossimouth. And for some reason I then joined-up myself...must've been mad...oh! I am.

My brother and I lived on ranges, roamed training areas and were surrounded by soldiers - toy and real, we collected empty cases (sometimes not so empty!) and had Schermuly flares on Bonfire night so that we could range the heath the next morning looking for the parachutes which Action-Man then made good use of out of the bedroom window!

When our parents split-up (very fashionable at the end of the 1970's!) we left our heath and moved to the teeming metropolis [sic] of Fleet in Hampshire, were I - as one of Mrs (she's no Lady) Thatcher's long-haired victims of Tory cuts (plue les change...plus les change!) - would get out of the house for hours by taking the dog (Finn; he was a red setter - if you know your Irish tales) for long walks round Fleet Pond and the areas surrounding it. One area that bordered the pond was the woodland at Southwood, where the engineers had been based for years before the whole thing became a retail/commercial park.

One piece hadn't been developed and is still being used today, behind/to the south of what was NGTE and is now Qinetiq. There was in the woods what looked like the remains of a WWII barracks/training area, although it was probably used after the war, but it was derelict by 1980. Usual collapsed shacks in the undergrowth, concrete paths running between the floors of long gone Nissan (Quonset) huts, even a couple of Nissan huts still in situ, no doors or windows but dry enough for a surreptitious teenage cigarette out of the drizzle! However there was also a structure which fascinated me as I had a fleet of Airfix Matador artillery tractors...

...so the other day I went back (nearly 30 years later!) to see if it was still there. Vandals have sadly destroyed it since I used to scrummage about on it, but the remains are still discernible. Basically - what it was in former days was the back-end (troop compartment) of a Matador or similar 8 or 10-ton rated lorry, mounted on concrete posts, presumably as some sort of convoy air-attack/ambush drill practiser?

You can still see the concrete posts, but what remains of the rusty frame (it was still upholstered in wood when me and Finn studied it) has been taken off and dumped against an old ammo/rubbish-bin bunker.

This structure remains in a much better state of repair and the feeling is it was part of some bridging/obstacle exercise, or even for teaching the placing of demolition charges? The reinforcing-rods suggest it was never completed, perhaps due to the wars end? Someone has had a go at the main pillars though.

These structures also hang about rather forlornly, no clue as to why man once had a desperate need to clear woodland and force his signature upon the landscape in quite such a brutalist style.

The small angle-iron barricade is interesting as compared to both modern barbed-wire pickets and the old WWII German ones all over the Channel Islands (we once collected enough still-good German pickets to pen a sheep-field!), this is a very flimsy thing of thin-gauge steel, more of a temporary road-traffic/checkpoint measure than a serious attempt to prevent enemy insertion!

3 comments:

Paul said...

Lovely post Hugh.

Anonymous said...

Yes - Interesting stuff, can anyone see it?

Maverick Collecting said...

Thanks guys

Anon - assuming you're local; head out of Farnborough as if you are going to Fleet the back way (airfield hangers etc...) and take the right turn at the new roundabout, wind through the trees and it's on the left among the doggies walkies area. Or; past Southwood golf course, over the two roundabouts and hang a left by Nokia, you can park at the little sports field there and it's in the woods. slightly left of that park...sort of on the next bend back up the minor road.

Cheers
Hugh