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Uffington’s road block defences in World War II

Nicholas J Sheehan 2023

Road blocks manned by local Home Guard units were important to British anti- invasion strategy and obstacles of different shapes and sizes were built in large numbers in the early 1940s. Anti-tank barriers were generally made of massive reinforced concrete blocks. These were often cubic and generally came in two sizes, with sides of 5 or 3ft 6in. They frequently had loops at the top for the attachment of barbed wire (Fig.1).

According to an unpublished document in the Defence of Britain Gazetteer (1), an anti-tank block lies beside the main road (the old A16, now the A1175) through Uffington (2). Described as a rough cube of concrete, it is situated to the immediate south of the entrance to The Coach House (Grid ref: TF 064 075).

Fig.1 Example of anti-tank cubes

The object in this position is a large solid ‘cube’ (Fig.2) which measures 3ft x 2ft 8in at the top and stands just under 2ft high but is partially sunk into ground.

Fig.2 Heavy solid cube close to the entrance to the Coach House on the A1175 through Uffington village

A minimum of two such obstacles would be needed to obstruct the highway against invading tanks and indeed fragments of a second similar block can be seen a third of a mile away on the north bank of the River Welland, on the west side of Uffington Bridge (Fig.3(a) and (b)).



Fig.3 (a) Fractured stone block near Uffington Bridge (March 2021); (b) Smaller fragment close by: a chip off the old block?

However, the roadside cube appears to be comprised of natural stone rather than manufactured from cast concrete and it has no loop, holes or slots on any of its visible surfaces. Moreover, Uffington residents have no memory of a roadblock there during the war or of the cube being present in its immediate aftermath. It is thought to have appeared only after that section of road was diverted through the north-east corner of Uffington Estate in 1967, suggesting that the blocks might be remnants of the fabric of Uffington House which was destroyed by fire in 1904.

Regardless of whether this was truly an anti-tank obstacle, Uffington was not without anti-invasion defences. As well as temporary timber barriers on the approaches to the village, simpler roadblocks against lighter vehicles were formed with concrete cylinders. One such example, measuring 2ft tall by 2ft in diameter, can be seen alongside the A1175 outside the entrance to Copthill Farm (Fig.4).

Fig.4 Cylindrical concrete obstacle by the entrance to Copthill Farm (2013)

Stocks of these concrete cylinders were also stored beside Uffington Bridge on Barnack Road, from where they could be manoeuvred into place across the road. A different type of roadblock was deployable at the south end of the bridge where sockets were cut in the road (Fig.5), into which steel girders or railway lines could be inserted vertically and old tyres passed over them and set alight. The road has been resurfaced many times since then and no trace remains of the sockets.

Fig.5 Example of sockets for a ‘vertical girder’ type of roadblock

Many road block defences were dismantled during the war and the rest soon after. Today, little remains of Britain's anti-invasion preparations and the provenance of Uffington’s putative anti-tank block is open to question.


(1). Osborne, Mike. Unpublished Document. Defence of Britain Gazetteer, 1999, p.7

(2). Monument record ML183582 – Anti-Tank Block, Uffington


I am grateful to Tom Francis (1928–2018), Paul Genever and Malcolm Towell for sharing their thoughts on Uffington’s wartime defences and the origins of the cube.

A print version can be downloaded HERE

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