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March 2021

Ready to Fight

Home guard loophole

The Monday Photo

This strange bit of wall was built by the local Home Guard in 1940, in case of German invasion. It’s a loophole; a firing slit. It sits on a junction in Clifton Road, Newton Blossomville, facing the turning to Hardmead.

We all know about the Home Guard, right?

Newton Blossomville is just a small village on country lanes, so why did the Home Guard think the Germans would come through the village? One reason might be that a few miles to the South is RAF Cranfield, which had been opened five years earlier.

It would have certainly been an objective for an invading force, and from there they would want to quickly advance; this was blitzkreig.

It’s an easy run from the airfield and along Hardmead road to Newton Blossomville, and once through the village it’s only a few miles to the crossroads at Warrington.

From there, main roads could take the invaders straight to Northampton or Wellingborough. I think the local men knew this, so they built this loophole. It wouldn’t have stopped the German army for long, but it was better than doing nothing.

Pillboxes and other hard defense points were built all over Southern England to standard designs, but non standard ones were built as well. There’s a pair of non standard pillboxes opposite Wolverton Works, made to protect the entrance.

If you know of any other hard defenses, standard or not, please let me know in the comments.

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Milton Keynes is Just a Village

First World War memorialAt the bottom of the war memorial are the usual crosses and a wreath, but there’s pebbles painted with poppies, and for some reason, wooden spoons.

Until the late 60s, if you knew of Milton Keynes at all, you’d probably be a local. Before then it was just a tiny village on a side road three miles from Newport Pagnell, but with the passing of an Act of Parliament in 1967 this began to change.

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Where Am I?

Finger post  Hillesden

The Monday Photo

I parked up the bike on the junction's grass triangle, so I could take a picture. I had just visited the lovely Hillesden church,  and I didn’t realise I was still in the parish, though I had ridden well over two miles from the church.

It was a Sunday afternoon in March. The day was sunny, but even today, two years later, I remember how cold it was. I would head home after this stop.

I like these old cast iron finger posts. There are quite a few left in North Bucks; there’s one at Swanbourne just across the road from the church, and another one at Mursley.

This type of sign began to be installed in the 1920s, and this example has a mistake. In the Polo mint-like circle at the top, it says “Cowley Road” (this bit might be correct), and underneath it says “Preston Bissett”. It should say “Hillesden”, because that’s the parish the sign is in.

The parish border is very close, though; about thirty feet from the finger post, out of shot on the left. A mile further on is the county border with Oxfordshire.

The other two finger posts are different. The circle on the Swanbourne finger post says “Swanbourne Bucks”, and the one at Mursley says “Bucks County”. Perhaps they were made in different years.

If you know of other finger posts in North Bucks, please let me know in the comments.

I’m looking forward to being able to go out on bike rides again, and it looks like that’ll be allowed fairly soon, as the lockdown rules change. The riding season doesn’t really start until April anyway, so until I can get out on rides I’ll be spending time in the shed, getting the bikes ready.

That’s quite satisfying, too; all part of the biking experience.

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