Operation ‘Team Time Trench’

Restoration Of The ‘Dorset Round Type’ One-Off Design Pillbox At Sy 7600-9060

Initial Thoughts

The `DORSET ROUND TYPE` uncovered after 60 years. The Pillbox is 12`9" in diameter with 2`8.5"thick walls.

The `DORSET ROUND TYPE` uncovered after 60 years. The Pillbox is 12’9″ in diameter with 28.5″thick walls.

Whilst travelling around the Dorset countryside in the mid-1990`s as a ‘Field Researcher’ for the Defence of Britain Project, I stumbled across a unique Pillbox, the type of which I have not seen replicated at any other location in the Westcountry.

For simplicity I called it the ‘Dorset Round Type’  due to the fact that it is completely round like the Type 25, but substantially larger.

During my initial visit in 1996 I noticed that it was under threat from a tree that was growing near its entrance and so in February 2004 I returned with John Hellis and Richard Drew for a more in-depth survey and we decided that action was needed if it was to be saved from destruction by vegetation.

The February 2004 Survey

During February 2004 the initial survey revealed some very worrying developments to the structure. The tree that I had seen in 1996 had now grown to such a size that it was forcing one of the two protective entrance walls away from the pillbox itself. Anymore movement would undoubtedly lead to its collapse.

The whole of the pillbox was covered with thick ivy making it almost impossible to see from adjacent road.

Having spent about an hour on location carefully examining what needed to be done we approached the land owner, Mr Paull, who was thankfully more than happy for a team from the Pillbox Study Group to carry out a sympathetic ‘restoration’ of the structure.

Operation ‘Team Time Trench’ Restoration Project

At 0800 on Friday 13th August 2004 members of the Pillbox Study Group, along with some additional support from Bruce ‘Chainsaw’, got together at a location approximately 4 miles east of Dorchester.

Right from the start the undergrowth was so overwhelming that it would have been impossible to have cleared the pillbox without the appropriate equipment. Bruce ‘Chainsaw’ set to work immediately cutting an access round to the rear of the structure.

Just to make things a little easier for us all Carol Matthews (my better half) & Bryony Hellis (John`s wife) set up a ‘Field Kitchen’ and kept us all fed and watered with bacon sandwiches, cakes and loads of tea!

The biggest threat to the pillbox was a tree that had established itself right up against the rear wall of the pillbox immediately adjacent to the right hand entrance wall. Without our intervention it would only have been a matter of time before this entrance wall was pushed over. Unfortunately some irreparable damage had already been done with the wall being pushed inwards by about 4 inches.

What was particularly amazing about the amount of vegetation covering the pillbox was the depth of material found on the roof. Sixty years of tree growth and accumulation of leaves, branches etc. ensured that the roof was covered with about 6 inches of well rotted but ‘matted’ together organic material. The clearing of this proved one of the most difficult tasks for the team to undertake.

The Final Touches And Structure Survey

Hours later and the Dorset Round Type Pillbox is fully uncovered!

The final line-up after a very tiring but rewarding day.

On top: Gavin Matthews & Left to right: Alan Warren, Richard Drew, Tim Denton, Graham Matthews, John Hellis, Bruce ‘Chainsaw’!

The Pillbox Study Group Restoration Team!

The Pillbox Study Group Restoration Team!

By Graham G Matthews PSG Webmaster

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Defence Structures and sites of all types both above and below ground can be very dangerous. Serious injury or even death can arise from unauthorised entry into such sites and structures. Join a responsible club, group or society who can arrange official visits. The Pillbox Study Group accepts no responsibility for any damages or injuries caused by ignoring this advice. The PSG does not encourage members to undertake the ad hoc clearance of vegetation from pillboxes, as it can expose them to physical damage and inappropriate use, it may also contravene a variety of statutory regulations including, listed buildings and SSSI designations. Vegetation clearance should only ever be undertaken as part of a formal arrangement, having sought and obtained permission from the land owner and other necessary authorities. Damaging a listed or scheduled monument can be considered as a Heritage Crime.

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