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World War history along our walks

A WWII pillbox alongside a public right of way near Potters Bar
A WWII pillbox alongside a public right of way near Potters Bar
A member of the Hertfordshire Walker Facebook Group asked for recommendations of walks that pass any points of World War history.

There are so many that I decided to put together a short article with a list of walk to help those who are interested in WWII history find sites of interest when they are out walking.

As well as running Hertfordshire Walker, I also created and edit The North Mymms History Project which has several articles about WWII history and features some of the sites you will see as you follow our walks. But first some background information for those new to WWII local history.

The Outer London Defence Ring, which was a defensive ring built around London during the early part of WWII, passes through Hertfordshire. It was intended as a defence against a German invasion.

North of London the ring followed a path similar to the route now taken by the M25 motorway. It stretches from Watford, following the River Colne, through Potters Bar, and on through Cuffley to Nazeing.

Many pillboxes and anti-tank traps are still visible at points along the ring. And there are WWII defences outside the ring, built to protect strategic installations such as airfields. We have walks that explore all these areas.

The walks


The spigot mortar emplacement E of Brookmans Park
The spigot mortar emplacement E of Brookmans Park
If you follow Walk 24 you will pass a well-preserved spigot mortar emplacement (location - https://w3w.co/gloves.spices.tuck). This is hidden in the hedgerow north-east of the Brookmans Park Transmission Station, which has a Cold War bunker beneath it.

During the Cold War that followed WWII the BBC drew up plans for a Wartime Broadcasting Service (WTBS) to be activated in the event of a nuclear attack. A bunker, built underneath the Brookmans Park Transmitting Station, was one of 11 at sites around the country. The twin-wave broadcasting facility was considered to be a crucial part of the nation’s communications strategy in the event of nuclear war.

The remains of a Tett turret on Walk 24
The remains of a Tett turret alongside Walk 24
Also on Walk 24 you will pass the remains of a Tett turret (location - https://w3w.co/issue.cheer.heats). According to Wikipedia, the Tett turret was "a type of hardened field fortification built in Britain during the invasion crisis of 1940–1941".
"It was a small circular pillbox named after its inventor H.L. Tett. It comprised a revolving concrete turret mounted on a ball race that allowed it to be turned easily. The turret was set above a pit; in early designs, the pit was formed by a standard section of concrete pipe 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter. The turret was a 20-inch (50 cm) high truncated cone of reinforced concrete weighing 1,456 pounds (660 kg) with a single embrasure and several spy holes."
On the same walk, if you take a short diversion along Woodside Lane at point 14, you will find a couple of tank traps (location - https://w3w.co/rots.wedge.soon), see image below.

A tank trap alongside the south-east of Woodside Lane, Bell Bar
A tank trap along Woodside Lane, Bell Bar
Near the end of Walk 3 you will pass a group of tank traps at the junction of Bradmore Lane and Station Road in Brookmans Park (location - https://w3w.co/frosted.ropes.bags), see image below.

Tank traps at the junction of Bradmore Lane and Station Road
Tank traps at the junction of Bradmore Lane and Station Road
For those interested in pillboxes, there are several walks that pass these fascinating structures.

One of the pillboxes on Walks 32 and 69
One of the pillboxes on Walks 32 and 69
Walk 32 and Walk 69, pass two WWII pillboxes alongside a public right-of-way running across an abandoned golf course at Potters Bar.

One of the Shenley pillboxes
One of the Shenley pillboxes
Two walks in the Shenley area, Walk 135 and Walk 136 pass two more WWII pillboxes.

The WWII pillbox to the left of Hunsdon footpath 10
The WWII pillbox to the left of Hunsdon footpath 10
In the Hunsdon area, we have two walks, Walk 144 and Walk 177, which feature a WWII airfield and pillboxes.

If you follow Walk 61, which is north of Welwyn, you will pass a line of WWII anti-tank obstacles.

The museum at Nuthampstead
The museum at Nuthampstead
In Nuthampstead, while following Walk 142, you will start your walk at a pub, The Woodman Inn. Behind the pub is a museum about the 55th Fighter Group and subsequently the 398th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces.

A runway at Nuthampstead, now part of the Hertfordshire Way
A runway at Nuthampstead, now part of the Hertfordshire Way
You will cross an abandoned airfield and walk along a runway where B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers took off on missions over occupied Europe. Walk 141 also starts at the museum but doesn't cross the former airfield.

The walks listed above are just a start. There will be others that pass WWII sites and I will add them over time.


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