Paul - who brings friendly nonsense (blur_kiwi) wrote,
Paul - who brings friendly nonsense

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Brean Down, part the second

At the far western tip of Brean Down is an old fort. It was originally built in the 1860s as part of a series of forts along the Bristol Channel coast to ward off a potential French threat following the strengthening of the French navy by Napoleon the third. The threat never came to anything and the fort muddled along as a small garrison. Just about the only exciting thing to happen there was in 1900 when a suicidal soldier decided to blow himself up in an explosives magazine. He succeeded; he also succeeded in blowing up half of the fort at the same time and it wasn't used any more after that.

However, the second world war saw it put to use again. This time it was, again, part of the sea defences helping to protect the channel ports on both the Welsh and English coasts of the Severn Estuary, but was also a base where secret and experimental weapons were tried out. One of those experimental weapons nearly destroyed the whole place. A rail track was built and the so-called bomb was mounted on a three hundred kilogramme trolley propelled at more than 350 kilometres an hour along a caterpillar track by 12 powerful rockets. The aim was to propel the trolley at high speed into buffers. The impact would fling the bomb far out to sea. But the whole lot - trolley, buffers and all - actually went flying off into the Channel, then did a sharp right and came back inland into a local farmer's chicken run! There are still a lot of buildings associated with this period in history, gun emplacements, search light standings and even large metal hooks in the ground for securing barrage balloons. 

As a pacifist I deplore all this stuff, but I do find it quite photogenic as well. Decaying buildings and the remnants of long-ceased activity are fascinating.

A search-light look-out post

Some of the hooks in the ground used for fastening barrage balloons

Another search-light emplacement

The fort from above the 'dry moat' that cuts it off from the rest of Brean Down. 
Note the typical and probably traditional British rubbish left behind on the pillar.

The 'dry moat'.

Inside the fort, what's left of the living quarters.

A gun emplacement (which was actually an old cannon!)

Mounting for a huge search light

The pink flowers in the front are called 'thrift'

As you may be able to tell, I have run out of things to say about the military stuff.

On the trackway back away from the fort. The island in the distance is called Steepholm and was used in an episode of the most recent (as seen here in the UK) series of Torchwood. 

Again, across the bay towards Weston-super-Mare and Burnbeck Pier.

I think this is just about my favourite photo from the day. I find it a very pleasing composition, somehow, and think it's a very peaceful image. And look at all those bluebells.

The steps down off of Brean Down!

The view from the steps out across all the caravan sites.

Driving away

Next up - Sunday afternoon at Chepstow Castle. I know, for someone who is vehemently appalled by and opposed to all things military (and I mean 'all things'), I seem to go to a lot of castles, forts, battlefields and museums. I'm still trying to work that one out myself. Perhaps it's because I love history but don't have much time for the past.
Tags: uk pics

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