By the end of 1943 arrangements were being put in place to remove pillboxes and road barriers that encroached on highways. For example one pillbox at Ixworth was reported to occupy half the main road and was also adjacent to crossroads! Planning for the removal of Coastal defence works began in 1944. The Officer of the Regional Commissioner, Eastern England organized a conference in Ipswich on 10th October 1944 for Town Clerks, civil leaders etc to discuss the military authorities arrangements for the systematic clearance of mines and beach defences on the Suffolk Coast.
For Coastal Towns (between Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and Littlehampton in West Sussex), a special case was recognized under the Compensation Defence Act (1939) and instead of case by case compensation being paid, the War Department instead decided to make good damage caused by defence works to municipal property along sea fronts or properties in which the municipality had an interest in. The removal work was organized by borough councils, the work being put out to tender and funded by the War Department. Although private property was not covered in the above scheme, in some cases it made sense to include removal works in Borough schemes (with the War Office agreement), an example being some buildings on private land at Briar Cliff Gardens from the Gunton Emergency Coastal Battery included in stage one of the Lowestoft restoration of corporation properties scheme.
As noted above, private property was not included in the above scheme and claims were dealt with on a case by case basis (either defence works removed or compensation paid). Priority was given to removal of works that were a danger to the public, impeded development and recreation or were a public nuisance. Some private landowners had to wait for the military to de-requisition the land before any salvage or removal work could take place. For example, the Royal Society for The Protection of Birds was still waiting for de-requisitioning of its land at North Warren in November 1946 - the Aldeburgh Town Clerk offered to use his influence to speed things up. If a defence work was not considered to warrant removal, compensation was supposed to be paid to the landowner.
Demolished material, if not salvageable, was to be disposed of at dumps selected by the Council and approved by the War Department. Material that the War Department decided to keep for salvage was to be taken to dumps specified by the War Department. Some materials that the Council kept for salvage were to be reflected in the final settlement of accounts with a credit note issued to the War Department.
In the Suffolk Records Office, two contracts for work in restoring coastal towns exist:
Aldeburgh Plan of Defence Works to be removed:
This included nearly three miles of tank blocks, tubular scaffolding and steel ‘dragon’s teeth’ spikes set in concrete along with barbed wire and defence works including the Emergency Coastal Battery. The work also including making good paving along the sea front and Crag path. Messrs. Leightons (Contractors) Ltd won the tender for a price of £26,997.14.10. The War Department also agreed to pay up to 4% of the total costs of works to cover administrative costs of Aldeburgh Town Council. A credit was to be given to the war Department in the final settling of accounts for any materials maintained by the Town Council for its own use.
As much of the material was to be salvaged as possible. However the Aldeburgh Borough Surveyor noted that much of the scaffolding was badly rusted and eroded by sea water and abrasion by shingle. Naturally the Town Council wanted to avoid placing material in temporary dumps (from which it have to be moved again) as it wanted to clear up the ‘mess once and for all’. Some was however eventually salvaged for agricultural purposes by the War Agricultural Executive Committee, Sprowston, Norwich and was collected by Iron & Steel Disposals Ltd. A good quantity of material that was not salvageable was dumped in an anti-tank ditch and covered over.
Some of the anti-tank cubes were used to build up the seawall at Slaughden and these can still be seen today.
left: Plan of Defence Work Removal Aldeburgh.
Right (above): Infilled anti-tank ditch, Aldeburgh.
Right (below): Remains of Defence Works in infilled
anti-tank ditch, possibly 'dragon's teeth'.
Removal of magazine and other accommodation on private land, Briar Road, Lowestoft
It was agreed between the War Department Land Agent, Lowestoft Borough and the land owner, Mr. Brown, to include the removal of six buildings on Mr. Brown’s land in stage 1 of the Lowestoft Borough restoration of Corporation properties scheme. The buildings included a latrine block, medical block, Kitchen block, dining hall, canteen and magazines. This supplementary work was carried out by Demolition and Construction Co Ltd, who were already working on the main scheme. The quote for the work was £2,429.7.6 The salvage element of the contract included windows, doors, water service pipes, electrical fittings, sinks, flushing cisterns, stoves and shelving.
Above: Plan of removal of defence works on private land to be included in Lowestoft Borough scheme
(based on plan in Suffolk Records Office).
Examples of defence works that were deemed to be a public nuisance or danger include the following:
• A spigot mortar in the roadway opposite No 15 Grove Cottages, Henley Road, Ipswich leading to Grove Farm – a complaint received by Mr. L Wallace on 25th Nov 1948 whose car ran into it while turning into this road.
• Pillboxes located between Dig by and Rushmore Road and Brickfield Lane – complaints about both being used as conveniences with smells and flies as a result.
• Dragon’s teeth located at 490 and 492 Nacton Road, the teeth at 492 located in the owners driveway!
Removal of Defence Works: Aldeburgh and Lowestoft, Suffolk Records Office