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Tyneham Village, Lulworth Firing Ranges, Dorset

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Feb. 2nd, 2013 | 08:19 am
posted by: wendylady2 in abandonedplaces

FIVE GO MAD IN DORSET !!

(CONCERNING THE VILLAGE THAT DIED FOR ENGLAND...)

After the post concerning the lost village of Imber on Saliasbury Plain, it was mentioned in the comments that a few people would like very much to visit the other famous abandoned village on the South Coast of England - a place we went to back in 2007...
W
e had been invited to a friend’s wedding celebration party in Dorset, a county that I didn’t know well at all, but got to like enormously during the course of the weekend !!

Having attended the wedding party, we still had the whole of Sunday to explore, and so the next day, after a full English breakfast, we decided to have a look at a little place that doesn't appear much in guide books or on many maps of the area...
We had been advised very firmly, by one of our friends, the night before, that we should really go and have a look around Tyneham village before we made our way back to London...


TYNEHAM VILLAGE

Now Tyneham Village hasn’t ever come to my attention before, so when I heard that this beautiful little place had been abandoned during the War, for the Good of Queen & Country, and was, thus, like a time capsule, never having been returned to its rightful owners, my curiosity was well and truly piqued !!

We drove back towards Corfe castle, and just before arriving there, we took a turning off to Tyneham Village...the signpost which said "Military Firing Ranges: Keep out !!" had another one underneath which said "Tyneham Village: School and Church museums open", which is what we were looking for...for this really IS the village that laid down its life for England...

We drove down many twisty, turning lanes, through open moor-land, and saw many firing practice targets posted on the hillsides...until we, at last, reached the lane to Tyneham Village...

The first thing we saw, was a dusty little lane, with the Post Office and General Store...


 and a most attractive old phone box outside...this phone box was installed only a few years before the village was abandoned in 1943, and when you peered inside its dusty windows, there were posters on the wall advising people to be brief...and that you could have your very own phone installed for the princely sum of 2/6d (12 p) Fantastic !!


All the beautiful stone cottages were roofless, and open to the elements, and had lost their ground floor ceilings...the sight of the fireplaces in the bedrooms starting half way up the inside walls was very strange, and very sad...


Quite a few of the cottages had big plaques on the main wall, with a montage of old photos and details of the families who had lived there up until 1943, when the whole village was abandoned...and very interesting reading it made too:-


Here is the schoolroom, with all its accoutrements still intact, even down to the children’s work out on the benches, with the teacher’s comments and markings in the margins...how enlightening that was !! In those days, children were admonished severely by the teacher for not keeping their letters up straight when writing, and for spelling mistakes...but in a kindly way !



They were writing an essay on a wild animal of their choice and its habitat...not something, I fear, which would be on our Junior School curriculum today !! The children displayed some detailed knowledge of what they were writing about that certainly impressed me no end, especially as they would be all under the age of eleven. Remember, these were children whose life-style expectancy was to leave school at fourteen and go to work...either as a farm labourer, or a cook, or a servant of some kind...

Opposite the schoolhouse was the mediaeval church of St. Mary, a beautiful little grey stone church, now a museum dedicated to Tyneham Village’s story...



On one of its walls, is a two-part Timeline, detailing the village’s long history, and the tale of its residents’ enforced departure...here is the relevant part:-



As we left the church, we saw this poignant notice pinned to the door :-



The church gate led back down towards the Post Office where we came in...


Such a charming and picturesque little place...and very poignant in its abandoned and ruined state...I'll bet it was lovely when it was inhabited !! A true English hamlet...

Here is its story:-

Bounded by gently rolling hills in all landward directions, and to the south by the sea, the isolation of this compact coastal location is one factor that attracted the Army in 1942 when, in order to train British and American tank crews for the planned assault on Normandy’s beaches, it sought to expand its existing gunnery ranges at Lulworth. Unfortunately, the use of live ordnance made it imperative that the tiny village that lay at the heart of this new battle training ground should be evacuated.

It was on the bitterly cold day of 17 November 1943, as the village began its traditional preparations for the forthcoming festive season, that the Creech village postmaster delivered to every household the letters that brought the unwelcome news of evacuation. The date set for the military takeover was 19 December. By that time, nearly half of the Isle of Purbeck had been requisitioned and the gunnery ranges at Lulworth expanded. In addition, an RAF radar station sat atop the lofty Tyneham Cap; women from the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) were billeted at Tyneham House, and airmen lodged in the village. Barbed wire had become a familiar sight in the landscape, as had the tank traps along the coast.

Villagers, who had already given so much for their country ( the parish had lost many young men in the Great War) patriotically did their duty, and peacefully accepted the eviction, buoyed by the belief that they would be back before the hay was due to be harvested. Temporary accommodation and alternative employment were found, and gradually the village emptied.

Within weeks, this tight-knit community had been scattered across the Isle of Purbeck, yet the people’s thoughts never strayed far from home, and most were simply marking time until the end of the war. But, sadly, the end of hostilities in 1945 did not bring about the end of their exile. Frustrated and concerned, Tyneham’s villagers wrote to the War Office, dismayed at the deteriorating condition of their cottages, the overgrown fields and shell-damaged church. As time went by, they intensified the pressure until finally, in 1947, the news broke that the parish of Tyneham-cum-Steeple was to be retained by compulsory purchase to become part of a 7,200-acre (2,880-hectare) gunnery range.

Though impassioned protests brought about a public enquiry, a government White Paper made it clear that, while some promises might have been made regarding the eventual return of Tyneham, it was necessary for all personal considerations to be overridden by what was in the best interests of the nation. As any last hope of returning home vanished for the villagers, many were offered the chance to be rehoused at Sandford, near Wareham, in a small estate of newly built council houses known as Tyneham Close. Light and modern, with electricity and indoor plumbing, these dwellings were a world away from the draughty old stone cottages of the village, with their antiquated sanitation. A number of former Tyneham folk were quite content in their new homes, but many others, broken-hearted, never really recovered from the shock.

Those final Tyneham residents long maintained that assurances were given that their removal from the village was merely a temporary precaution and that once hostilities ceased they would be allowed to regain possession of their homes. As tenants of the Bond family, who held the Tyneham estate (and therefore much of the parish), the villagers did not actually own any of the properties. Consequently, when it became clear that the government intended to retain the land indefinitely, the ordinary folk of Tyneham merely received compensation for the produce of their gardens. Nevertheless, as far as the villagers were concerned, Tyneham, while not their property, was certainly their home, and had been for many years – in a number of cases, for generations.
Yet even they were eventually forced to concede that there was by now little left of the old Tyneham to move back to.

I think this is terribly sad story...and the photos of the children who returned as middle-aged adults to see their parents' old homes in ruins, were included, in many cases on the big information plaques within each house...

They all seemed to be united in their condemnation of the cavalier treatment of the village community by the British Government of the day...what does it matter that they didn’t actually own their homes ? This was their tightly knit community that was torn apart, and promises were broken with no recompense given at all...

After walking all around this abandoned village, we took a ten minute stroll along the lane, down to the sea, at Worbarrow Bay, passing quite a few further abandoned cottages along the way...everywhere were signs admonishing you not to wander from the path as this was a Firing Range...


 
and as if that was not enough to convince you, there were a few burnt out tanks on the hillsides, where the army had been practising booby traps, I suppose !!

All in all, this was an extremely unusual place, and one that is highly recommended to go and see, if you are ever in the Lulworth Cove/Worbarrow Bay areas...

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Comments {29}

kryptyd

(no subject)

from: kryptyd
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 08:22 am (UTC)
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It's pretty. If only I still had a car

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 08:26 am (UTC)
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It was very pretty - we were enchanted by this place...even though it was sad !!

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Ponee

(no subject)

from: featherfire
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 09:07 am (UTC)
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That's such a sad story. :/ I'd love to go there one day.

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Rev. Otana

(no subject)

from: otana
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 09:26 am (UTC)
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These photos are wonderful, this is absolutely beautiful. Next time I'm back home, I'm definitely checking it out.

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plumtreeblossom

(no subject)

from: plumtreeblossom
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 10:45 am (UTC)
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What a wonderful post! I agree, I bet it was delightful when it was populated.

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 12:19 pm (UTC)
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After the war, the villagers fought a lengthy legal battle to regain their homes, but to no avail - they were offered instead a road within a new estate of modern houses, named Tyneham Close, near Wareham, which many of them actually preferred - central heating, running water, double glazing, all mod cons !!
I don't think any of them wanted to lose their community though...

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calico_pye

(no subject)

from: calico_pye
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 11:06 am (UTC)
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What an amazing place - definitely worth the trip :-)

Edited at 2013-02-02 11:25 am (UTC)

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
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Oh it definitely is - it's right in the middle of a huge tract of wild land, used by the Army for training and manoeuvres, so you can only go at the weekends, and maybe throughout the month of August, I think.

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calico_pye

(no subject)

from: calico_pye
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 01:08 pm (UTC)
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I have put a link in my own journal back to your page, because I think it's incredible :-)

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 03:40 pm (UTC)
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You are welcome to befriend my personal journal of course, and there are loads of travel posts to many, many places !!
However, you probably want wendylady1 instead !! This journal is my fashion journal...

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Dingbat

(no subject)

from: quercus
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 11:41 am (UTC)
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Nice find on the K1 phone box!

If you wouldn't mind free licensing it (even just a small copy), Wikimedia Commons would love an upload of it
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:K1_telephone_boxes

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 12:15 pm (UTC)
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Oh yes - feel free !! However, they already have a photo of this very box right there on that page, but they don't have the interior shot !! Apparently, Tyneham was used for filming during the early 80s, and this phone box was flattened by accident !! The film company had to source another one from somewhere, which they did and now it has been completely restored - here's the story :-

http://www.tynehamopc.org.uk/telephone_kiosk.html

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iddewes

(no subject)

from: iddewes
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 02:12 pm (UTC)
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Really interesting, I didn't know about that one or Imber before! (but then I have never actually been to Dorset). It is indeed a sad story and not the only case in which the government destroyed people's homes - have you heard about Capel Celyn, the Welsh village that was submerged to provide a reservoir for Liverpool? That one is even worse because there is no way anyone could visit their families' former homes.

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I've heard that a village in Wales was sacrificed to create a reservoir, and of course, there's now no village to visit as it's all underwater - what a shame !! I wonder how many abandoned villages there actually are in the whole of the UK ?

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.

(no subject)

from: wolfsilveroak
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 04:38 pm (UTC)
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There's whole towns in China that were submerged for their dams as well. Here, there's several farmsteads and even a graveyard under Carvin's Cove Resevior.

It happens the world over, sadly.

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iddewes

(no subject)

from: iddewes
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
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It's not very surprising that it happened in China, though, considering their human rights record...
It has led to devolution in Wales, eventually, since at the time 35 out of the 36 members of parliament based in Wales voted against it (the 36th one didn't vote), but it still passed, which made people in Wales totally feel helpless and that the UK government didn't represent them.

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dana_drum

(no subject)

from: dana_drum
date: Feb. 7th, 2013 07:23 am (UTC)
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There are whole towns in the USA, too.

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Petrona

(no subject)

from: petrona
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
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What an awesome collection of pictures. Thanks for sharing!

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.

(no subject)

from: wolfsilveroak
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 04:37 pm (UTC)
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I've heard of Tyneham before, but these are some of the best photos i've seen.

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Insanity Incarnate

(no subject)

from: shadowgate
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 06:11 pm (UTC)
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Truly a sad story. You took beautiful pictures, and I'm glad you wrote some explinations! Great job!!!!

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 3rd, 2013 12:07 pm (UTC)
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I always like to get the back-story if only to bring the pics life...not always possible with some of these places, but Tyneham is well documented !!

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Alex

(no subject)

from: failuresofine
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 06:51 pm (UTC)
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This is awesome, and this might be one of the best posts I've ever seen in this comm. Wish I could visit this place!

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 3rd, 2013 12:06 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for your kind comments - I always think it's such fun to take great pics of paces like this, but the background story needs to accompany them, or you can't really appreciates them to the full !!

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Karen

(no subject)

from: byrons_brain
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
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I didn't realise Britain had abandoned villages, what an amazing story....

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 3rd, 2013 12:09 pm (UTC)
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Well, Britain is an old, old land, with an awesome amount of history going on, but abandoned places like this don't usually last this long unless there is some reason why the land can't be used, and a military firing range is as great a reason as any !!

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rednikki

(no subject)

from: rednikki
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
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That is so beautiful and sad.

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stregamari

(no subject)

from: stregamari
date: Feb. 2nd, 2013 11:18 pm (UTC)
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thank you for the beautiful pictures and story, I loved this little glimpse into the past. It's so sad and odd to see space unused and abandoned, and seeing homes and personal space seemed more touching

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Wendy

(no subject)

from: wendylady2
date: Feb. 3rd, 2013 12:10 pm (UTC)
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It was a very poignant experience to wander round this place, especially as there were plenty of explanation and information boards everywhere. The church has the whole story contained within...

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Fantastical worlds, Fiery Love

(no subject)

from: jana_denardo
date: Feb. 3rd, 2013 04:01 am (UTC)
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this is fascinating

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