Day #228/365: Studys and documentation of the fading shadows from defences of the realm…

  • File under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #37/52.

    I’ve mentioned this before but I seemed to spend a good part of my younger years fascinated by small-scale defence installations; concrete pillboxes that stood in fields, resisting the passage of time, debris filled air raid shelters and the like…

    These were part of what appears to be/have been a vest network of semi-invisible defences scattered across the landscape, on cliff edges and beneath our feet.

    Over the years there has come to be a growing body of literature that documents and investigates such buildings and their associated preparedness; the eyes, ears and quiet claws that were intended to defend the realm.

    Here are but a few of such things…

    The Royal Observer Corps-Underground Monitoring Posts-Subterrania Britannica-A Year In The CountryOne of my favourites (if that’s the right phrase to use in such a case). The Royal Observer Corps Underground Monitoring Post were a series of around 1500 such two-man installations… there is something both heroic and tragically hopeful about them. The small hand cranked air raid siren on this cover both fascinates and gives me the heebie jeebies.                                              
    Cold War-Building For-English Heritage-Subterrania Britannica-A Year In The CountrySomething of a magnificent structure (well, if you overlook its purpose)… All the energy, resources etc that went into all this kind of boggles the mind…
    Burlington-Nick Catford-Subterranea Britannica-A Year In The CountrySubterranean Britain-Cold War Bunkers-Nick Catford-Subterrania Britannica-A Year In The Country
    Ghost Fields Of Suffolk-Roderick McKenzie-A Year In The Country Ghost Fields Of Norfolk-Roderick McKenzieGhost Fields Of… is such a wonderfully evocative title, a fine piece of accidental hauntological naming… and the fact that there is a pairing of such books seems to help quietly confuse and fascinate my mind.
    British Anti-Invasion Defences-A Pocket Reference Guide-Pillbox Study Group-A Year In The CountryAnd while I’m talking of accidental hauntological namings… The Pillbox Study Group sounds as though it is something I should’ve stumbled upon via The Belbury Parish Magazine.”Cold War dread” is a phrase that I have often come across while studying, researching and wandering amongst what has come to be labelled hauntological culture and is something that seems to often be associated with those of a certain age and who grew up in a particular era when the possibility of such conflagrations was potentially all too real…

    That sense of dread and its sources aren’t something that I often overtly refer to during A Year In The Country but I think in many ways it constantly underpins and informs much of these otherly wanderings.

    Now it is almost as though it has become in part merely a possibly over referred to cultural aesthetic/signifier but though the “hot” characteristics of such cold conflicts does not currently seem to abound, it would seem that all the associated machinery is still posted around the world, still pointed somewhere but I’m not sure quite where or what for.

    ‘Twould seem you can keep the genies in the bottles (fortunately and much praise for that) but not have them dissolve away, even when it is claimed that there wishes are nolonger required.

    Hmmm.

    Henry Wills-Pillboxes-A Study Of UK Defences-A Year In The CountryMike Osborne-Pillboxes Of Britain and Ireland-Subterrania Britannica-A Year In The Country…and while I’m mentioning such things, above are two more explorations of these stoic guardians…
    Fortress Kent-The Guardian Of England-A Year In The Country…and talking of guardians… this brings to mind both defence and attackers from elsewhere, the wording reminds me of long sleeping protectors from The Changes, the installations themselves could be The Tripods marching across the land…
     Defending Britain-Mike Osborne-A Year In The CountryDefending Anglesey-Mark Dalton-A Year In The Country
    …and more investigative studies of such forgotten and not currently thought needed structures… I find a strange kind of beauty in the one on the above right. I’m not quite sure why. There’s an optimism, a loneliness and a joy to it in some way…
    A Year In The Country-hauntological diagram
    The above image is from one of these investigations; it seems like album clipart just waiting to be sent out into the world….

    I feel that I should use the phrase England My Lionheart somewhere on this page. I’m not quite sure why. Not in a jingoistic little England manner. More I think because it is a song/phrase that conjures a very particular yearning, loss and hope, which is something that architecture such as the above can also at times seem to…

    So with that, as the soldiers soften, the war ends and the air-raid shelters bloom over, I shall depart these fields of zeros and ones for a moment or two…

    Thankyou to Subterrania Britannica.

    Step under the ivy: An English Lionheart.

    Previous installations and ghosts.

     

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