Bell Bar's WWII Tett turret and tank traps

Was this defending the Brookmans Park Transmitting Station?


The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire Photograph by the North Mymms History Project Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire
Photograph by the North Mymms History Project
Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Close to a public footpath to the east of Woodside Lane and to the north of the A1000 Great North Road lies a heap of concrete and metal. It appears to be the remains of a Tett turret, part of the WWII defences. Almost directly to the west, at the side of Woodside Lane, are seven tank traps, part of the same wartime anti-invasion precautions. Clearly, Bell Bar was a strategic spot during the war.

The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire Photograph by the North Mymms History Project Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire
Photograph by the North Mymms History Project
Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
Photograph of The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire Photograph by the North Mymms History Project Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire
Photograph by the North Mymms History Project
Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire Photograph by the North Mymms History Project Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire
Photograph by the North Mymms History Project
Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire Photograph by the North Mymms History Project Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire
Photograph by the North Mymms History Project
Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


According to Wikipedia, the Tett turret was "a type of hardened field fortification built in Britain during the invasion crisis of 1940–1941".

"It was a small circular pillbox named after its inventor H.L. Tett. It comprised a revolving concrete turret mounted on a ball race that allowed it to be turned easily. The turret was set above a pit; in early designs, the pit was formed by a standard section of concrete pipe 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter. The turret was a 20-inch (50 cm) high truncated cone of reinforced concrete weighing 1,456 pounds (660 kg) with a single embrasure and several spy holes."

The Bell Bar Tett turret (Grid Ref: TL 25398 05508) was spotted by a local resident who posted an image of the remains on our former site's community forum.

Screen grab of the site of the Tett turret.
The Tett turret is marked with the blue marker, grid reference TL 25398 05508

Closer inspection of what is left of the turret indicates that there is a concrete base underneath, but the site is now filled in with soil. Another theory is that it could have been moved and dumped in its current location.


The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire Photograph by the North Mymms History Project Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Bell Bar Tett turret, North Mymms, Hertfordshire
Photograph by the North Mymms History Project
Released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Usually, a Tett turret would have been placed over a ditch so that the occupier could crawl in, see image below.


Scan of a sketch of a Tett turret accessible via slit trench Image by HM Government (The National Archive AVIA 22/1550 - Tett Turret) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Tett turret accessible via slit trench
Image by HM Government (The National Archive AVIA 22/1550 - Tett Turret)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A well-preserved Tett turret has been photographed north of the village of Docking, King's Lynn, West Norfolk.

Photograph of A well-preserved Tett turret has been photographed north of the village of Docking, King's Lynn, West Norfolk. Image by Evelyn Simak released under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A well-preserved Tett turret north of the village of Docking, King's Lynn, West Norfolk
Image by Evelyn Simak released under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Photograph of A well-preserved Tett turret north of the village of Docking, King's Lynn, West Norfolk Image by Evelyn Simak released under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The steps inside the Tett turret north of the village of Docking, King's Lynn, West Norfolk
Image by Evelyn Simak released under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bell Bar tank traps


Close to the site of the Tett turret, alongside the southern edge of Woodside Lane, is a line of tank traps either side of the road. The six images below were taken by the North Mymms History Project and released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0.


Photograph of a Bell Bar tank trap, North Mymms, Hertfordshire. Image by the North Mymms History Project, released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of a Bell Bar tank trap, North Mymms, Hertfordshire. Image by the North Mymms History Project, released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of a Bell Bar tank trap, North Mymms, Hertfordshire. Image by the North Mymms History Project, released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of a Bell Bar tank trap, North Mymms, Hertfordshire. Image by the North Mymms History Project, released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of a Bell Bar tank trap, North Mymms, Hertfordshire. Image by the North Mymms History Project, released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of a Bell Bar tank trap, North Mymms, Hertfordshire. Image by the North Mymms History Project, released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0


More WWII and WWI reading


We have a number of features on this site about local WWII war-time defences, including:


There are also a number of features about WWI, including:


Your contributions welcome


The North Mymms History Project is a community team effort, so if you come across any local war-time defences, or anything else of historical interest, please contact us using the form to the bottom right of any page.



6 comments:

  1. these are vanishingly rare particularly with the base intact - it could do with conserving or restoring

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alasdair, is there a group I should notify who might be able to do such work?

      Delete
    2. the pillbox study group has quite a few members who may be able to advise http://www.pillbox-study-group.org.uk/ if you click through to the forums there's section on conservation and rescue archeology - there's fewer than ten of these remaining

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    3. Thanks Alasdair, I will take a look. David

      Delete
  2. Janusz Neumann12 June 2018 at 09:59

    Having endured the two hour drive down the A1 on Thursday (10 May) I was not disappointed when viewing the remains of the Tett turret. Having been dumped and in four pieces it is in surprisingly good condition. The roof slab which I thought was snapped in half was in fact two separate pre-cast half sections, the long arms of which are ‘keyed’ to produce a seamless join when put together (I learn something new everytime). When assembled the 11cm thick slab produces a square 185 x 185cm with a central hole measuring 123cm dia. The concrete ‘collar’ on which the turret rests is also intact and in good condition. The turret, though upside down and resting on its side is in great condition. It has the usual array of vision slits (5) and lifting eyes (3) all intact; and the firing aperture is of the open ‘U’ type, the same as found in the Tetts at Hornchurch but not those at Docking which are closed at the top. Below the firing aperture are the remains of the weapons mount which has suffered some deterioration by rust. Remarkably still attached to the rear of the turret are the metal straps that form the supports for the suspended seat, although they are not in the best of condition, they are a rarity – I have only ever seen another example on the Tetts at Docking. There was no sign of the rollers/bearings that would have been the turret race. I had a scout around and did not find any evidence of brick or concrete that could have been the chamber for the turret so conclude that this is not its original deployment site – but who knows. A fantastic find nevertheless and one that should be protected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Janusz,

      Thanks for adding that fascinating information about the Tett turret. It's great when users of this site enhance the features with added value comments.

      Regards

      David

      Delete

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