Anti-Tank Rails, Spring Lane, Lexden

Back Spring Lane, Lexden

On the west side of the River Colne, a few yards north of Lexden Bridge, the embankment is lined with a concrete wall, c. 5’ high up to the level of the meadow behind. Projecting from the top of the wall are 9+ anti-tank rails, each 3-4’ high and probably made from cut lengths of rolled steel joist (RSJ). The river at this point is very shallow and these would have been put into this position to prevent tanks crossing the river bed. A low-level aerial photograph taken in 1948 shows the wall, plus three anti-tank cubes between it and the W end of the bridge. The site of the rails has not been visited but they can be clearly seen from the bridge.

On the west side of the River Colne, a few yards north of Lexden Bridge, the embankment is lined with a concrete wall, c. 5’ high up to the level of the meadow behind. Projecting from the top of the wall are 9+ anti-tank rails, each 3-4’ high and probably made from cut lengths of RSJ. The river at this point is very shallow and these would have been put into this position to prevent tanks crossing the river bed. A low-level aerial photograph taken in 1948 shows the wall, plus three anti-tank cubes between it and the W end of the bridge. The site of the rails has not been visited but they can be clearly seen from the bridge.

It is thought that Lexden Bridge marked the junction of the Eastern Command Line around the north of Colchester and the anti-tank line around the south of the town.

Extant anti-tank rails are very rare. At the time of this entry most of the County’s lines of defence have been surveyed and this is the first extant rails, as opposed to hairpins, which have been recorded.

With the greater part of Essex’s World War Two defence sites now visited (over 2,000 sites) no other instances of as many as nine intact rails have been discovered. 

Anti-tank rails at Lexden

Anti-tank rails at Lexden

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