24 Mar 2017

A big surprise at Shirley pond

With time on my hands today, I decided to explore a corner of Southampton that I've not investigated before. It has only taken me half a century, but I have finally discovered Shirley pond.

And look what I found...

Yes, a weed-ridden pond with some ducks and a football floating in the middle.

Of course, it is still early in the year and the pond is not at it's best yet.

Other vantage points suggest that it will be well worth visiting again in a couple of months time. It is potentially a very nice afternoon out, especially if I also stop off at the neighbouring public house for a half of lager shandy in the beer garden.

That particular pub is named The Ice House, which is most unusual for a pub name. It indicated that there is some interesting history to be discovered here.

And indeed there was.

Looking at this page on Sotonpedia, I see that the pub is built over a large pit, which was used to store ice that was collected in winter. That ice was subsequently used, throughout the year, to keep produce fresh, prior to refrigerators.

Presumably, some of the the ice might have been collected from Shirley Pond...?

If so, I hope it was a bit cleaner in those days. One also wonders if Victorian diners at the Clarence Hotel on Southampton High Street ever found Newts and Tadpoles in their salad...?

But best of all perhaps, was the unexpected discovery of some large blocks of concrete, with a flat top pyramid shape.

I hadn't expected to see anything like this, but I knew instantly what they were.

They are "Dragons teeth", a WWII tank trap.

Whilst this obstacle wouldn't have stopped the Wehrmacht completely, this is one small part of the intricate web of defences that were built to slow down the Nazis if they had landed on the South coast of England in 1940.

I was delighted to have found this site and amazed that the concrete still appears to be in pretty good condition, despite the passage of time and the vegetation that has grown over and around them.

I wonder what else there is to discover here...?

Maybe nothing, but there are certainly plenty of other sites around Southampton, some accessible many not, which have WWII heritage.

I really must try to do this kind of thing more often...