I’ve had a hectic but enjoyable weekend, fitting 3 explores in around various other bits of more mundane life.

First up Saturday, King’s Lynn coastal defence battery at Ongar Hill. It was a hot and humid afternoon, and a bit of a treck down to the site, but worthwhile nonetheless. Originally built to house a pair of 6 inch guns, the gun houses, magazine and observation tower still remain.

King's Lynn Coastal Defence Battery

I spent a while inside the magazine, camera on tripod, practising long exposures and light painting. Whilst I was in there, a couple of WW2 buffs turned up for a nose around, followed by an older couple. It’s clearly a popular place for an afternoon walk.

More pictures of King’s Lynn battery.

By the time I headed back to the car, the weather was swelteringly humid, so I headed up to Sutton Bridge to spot a few pillboxes on the way home. The sky had cleared by now and there was a nice fresh breeze on the coast, so I followed the road beyond Guy’s Head and found that it eventually ends up on the RAF’s Holbeach practice range. Wrecks and practice targets lurk just off the shoreline, so it must be a great place to sit and watch when they’re on exercises.

Stopped off to grab a few photos of a FW3 type 23 by the side of the road, then got home and realised that it was a “Lincolnshire three bay” – rare, and only found in this part of the country. The entrance was blocked with bushes, so I didn’t try and gain entry, but will have to head back in winter for a few decent pics of the interior, which looked to be in pretty good condition.

Type 23 Variant - Lincolnshire three bay

Sunday afternoon, the weather was plain and simple fabulous, so I headed over to investigate the remains of RAF Polebrook, a former WW2 USAAF and Thor missile base. I’d watched a youtube video of bombers thundering up the runway earlier in the day. As I arrived, the Battle of Britain Lancaster passed close by. I made a desperate grab for the camera, but too late to catch a passing shot.

I’d done a bit of research on the site and knew it had a Battle HQ almost identical to the one at RAF Warboys. I’d seen that it was flooded, so brought my wellies with me, only to discover that the water was way too deep without waders.

RAF Polebrook Battle HQ

RAF Polebrook Battle HQ Interior (Flooded)

I took a drive around the site, hopeful of finding a barrack block with some old WW2 murals, but quickly realised that it was inaccessible down a private road alongside an estate cottage. So I took a drive up the main entrance road to the main site, now an industrial estate. The surrounding area is now heavily wooded, within which there’s a mass of air raid shelters. There’s probably more besides, but I think it’s another site to visit in winter when the good stuff is less hidden amongst undergrowth.

RAF Polebrook Air Raid Shelters

Just up the road was one of the three rare, possibly unique double embrasure pillboxes – again, heavily buried in the bushes. Unfortunately, it was also the pillbox where bunnies go to die. The place was literally littered with corpses. Spent a while longer playing with tripod mounted long exposures and happened across an engraving in the bricks. Not sure whether it was from the WW2 period, or a revisit by someone who served there – but it was pretty touching nonetheless.

Double embrasure pillbox

Engraved brick

I then parked near the WW2 memorials and took a long walk up the old runway, stopping off to photograph the one remaining hangar and the Thor missile bases. The former made me stop and imagine the bombers rolling out to takeoff – the latter, as a child of the 80s, had me thinking of the Cold War stand-off with Russia and “Duck and Cover” videos as a kid. As I stood in the missile tracks of one Thor launcher, “Highway to Hell” came into my head and wouldn’t go away for a while.

Thor Missile Launcher Blast Wall

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I strolled back to the WW2 memorials in the fantastic early evening sun and stopped for a while to read the guest book in a small cabinet beside the marble memorial benches. I sat on one bench and opened the book to read the messages left by visitors from the world over. I recognised the odd name. A beautiful “We will remember them” eulogy from a local airfield enthusiast I’ve spoken to online in the last week or so. But it was one message, from a WW2 veterans son which really struck me. I noticed the page was spotted with water and wondered if it was tears. As a did so, I felt a few welling up myself.

RAF Polebrook Memorial

More pictures from RAF Polebrook.

Bank Holiday Monday, I’d decided to have a lazy day, recovering from the dashing about of the two preceding days. Then, mid afternoon, the weather changed from dull and overcast to gloriously sunny – so I just had to get out and do something.

I’d found a site on Flash Earth a while back that looked like an old railway building, on a junction on the former March – St.Ives line. As I didn’t have a huge amount of time, this seemed like a nice local option to investigate.

On the ground, it was virtually impossible to locate amongst the hedgerow. I parked about 10 feet from it, but couldn’t see it until I crossed over into the neighbouring field.

Derelict rail cottages

This was some serious dereliction. Even the lintels above the windows were starting to drop and it can only be a short period of time before they collapse completely. Inside, the floors have collapsed, leaving the upstairs fireplaces hanging oddly from the walls.

Derelict cottages

At the back, a section of upper floor remains and I hoped that the stairs might be solid enough to allow a tentative exploration. Sadly, this was far from the truth. Most of the stairs have gone, and the few remaining steps were probably only held together by the woodworm.

Derelict stairs

There’s something more than a little disconcerting about standing underneath an unsupported wall.

Derelict wall.

I had wondered before visiting if it was a small station stop, serving nearby Needingworth. There’s a pathway across the modern road to the village. But, having visited, I now think they’re an old pair of cottages built for railway workers. I can only assume that they housed workers responsible for the junction between the two local lines – maybe even a signalman or two.

More pictures.

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