There is a lost world on Seaford Head. Go past the Roman burial ground, near the location of the bronze age fort, half concealed in spreading scrub, turf and brambles you will find a network of military roads. Their concrete remains weirdly unbroken after 70 years, although slowly vanishing as the earth and weeds encroach and gradually cover their surface. The longest unbroken stretch of military road leads up a hill to a lone barn, centre of an area that was militarised in the 1940’s as part of the defence of the South Coast from possible invasion.
The roads were laid down to enable tanks to access the cliff top. What alien magic enabled them to be built to be pot hole proof despite years of use? Further down the cliff track enterprising home owners have a garden shed converted from an anti-tank gun position. Converted because its fortified construction magically defied its removal. The owners wish the same magician had built the neighbouring Coast Guard cottages whose continued existence as an international tourist attraction is threatening by the waves that break against their foundations.
Little recognised is the rôle that this area subsequently played in the Defence of the Realm in the 1950’s. Tucked away amongst the blackberry brambles, nettles and scrub, approachable through what are known locally as ‘dog walker’s ways’ lie what are in fact the remains of cunningly camouflaged access routes, the remnant of what appears to be a once-secret defence installation.
During the 1950 there was a time of great uncertainty as the threat of nuclear war hung over a Europe half occupied by the oppressive military and ideological weight of the Russian Empire. Rumours of exotic air vehicles were aided by published information showing British research into vertical take-off machines, and US research into other exotic forms of flight and the first Russian satellites. Swirling around all this newspaper speculation were the constant rumours of flying saucer events and invaders from outer space.
Tucked into the scrub but visible from the nearby car park is a mysterious circular structure. At its heart is a ring of conical points looking for all the world as if they were designed to support one of the landing ‘flying saucers’, perhaps crewed by little green men as reported widely by imaginative citizenry, especially those with an affinity for their drink in dark green bottles. Indeed, some of these public-spirited people claim to have been carried away and experimented on, as described in Kurt Vonnegut’s classic book of adventure, ‘Slaughterhouse Five’.
I stumbled across the installation whilst on one of the many walks I have made across the nature reserve on top of the cliffs. That the installation has strange time travel power is confirmed by the rift that happens in the time/space continuum to grant a glimpse of the 1960’s De Havilland Vampire fighter jets that guard this platform.
Perhaps the ‘National Park’ that surrounds this area along with the lack of investment and poor travel infrastructure is all part of a clever national security exercise to maintain some secrecy and isolation. Seen from afar its circle of white conical ‘hats’ gleams in the light, its military grey paintwork merging into the greenery around it. Cleverly its true purpose is concealed by a discreet notice claiming it is part of NATS – Britain’s National Air Traffic control network, that it is in fact the Seaford DVOR Navigational aid.
‘They’ must think we were born yesterday if ‘they’ expect us to believe that!
The flying saucers are long gone. Back to Alpha Centauri of course. Where else?
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