En-route we decided to stop off at Tyneham in Dorset, a small abandoned village nestled amongst the Purbeck Hills, only a few miles from the sea, Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.
It was rather tricky to find... our sat nav couldn't locate it, all maps are a bit vague to is precise location and it cannot be seen from the main road. The only clue to its exsitance is the sign on the road proclaimng "village open"!
Tyneham's history dates back to the Iron Age, when fishing communities once resided there. It also has connections with William the Conqueror who gave the local land to his brother, the Earl of Mortain.
However, the most memorable time in Tyneham's history began towards just before Christmas 1943, when the village and 7,500 acres of surrounding heath and downland were commandeered by the War Office to be used as firing ranges for training troops. Altogether, 252 people were displaced.
This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement during WWII, but in 1948 the army placed a compulsory purchase order on the land and it has remained in use for military training ever since. The villagers were not allowed to return to their homes, but were given new accomodation. After the war, many of the villagers launched campaigns and demonstrations, but to no avail. Since that time Tyenham has remained uninhabbited and frozen in time. Many of the buildings still stand in various states of disrepair, some have been restored like the church and school, however some, such as the 'Great House' have been lost forever.
For me the most poingnant feature in the village was the perfectly preserved K1 phone box, which was only installed a short while before the village's evacuation. Original war posters can be seen in place inside along with the original phone, complete with "A" and "B" buttons. It must have been such a thrill for this rural and removed village to finally have direct and immediate contact with the outside world, all be it briefly.
I found my visit to the village very moving, espacially when I read the note that the villagers left the Military upon evactuation...
'Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.'
Upon reading this, knowing that they were never allowed to return and to see the village as it is now really hit me and I had a bit of a sob... Chas called me daft, so I ate his spare sandwich... ha!
Here are some more piccies...
|Chas inside one of the derelict homes... it was so sad, and really touching as each house had a plaque with pictures of the familes who once lived there|
|The old post office|