Location of board

Three Mile Hill, Widford


The defeat of the Allies in France in the summer of 1940 and the subsequent evacuations across the Channel resulted in over 200,000 British servicemen escaping from German hands. However, the situation was desperate as all their equipment, armour and heavy guns had been lost.

An invasion was anticipated from the south or east coasts, through East Anglia's flat open countryside to London and the industrial Midlands.

During the summer of 1940, multiple lines of anti-tank defences, strong points around towns and villages, pill boxes, gun emplacements, road barriers and anti-aircraft gun sites were constructed to delay the Germans long enough for mobile forces to raise a counter-attack.

The crucially important General Headquarters (GHQ) Defence Line ran from Somerset across southern England and East Anglia to Yorkshire. In Essex, a line of 400 pill boxes ran from Canvey Island to Great Chesterford. In Chelmsford Borough, the River Chelmer acted as an anti-tank defence line to the north of the town, with a six metre wide anti-tank ditch to the south. Surviving pill boxes can still be seen along the A130 and Chelmer Valley.

Map showing New London Road marked with sites of roadblocks and tank traps

The GHQ line east of Chelmsford was manned by the regular Army. Towns and villages were defended by the 6th Essex Battalion Home Guard. Major road junctions had concrete and steel road barriers, gun emplacements, pill boxes and anti-tank defences.

Anti-tank pimples, also known as dragons' teeth, were part of these defences and thousands were used to prevent tank movements. The dragons' teeth have been relocated from adjacent Radnor. Originally part of a roadblock across the old A12 between Radnor and the former White Horse PH, there were two staggered lines and a moveable barrier across the road, with a pill box on the site of the car park.

Constructed in their thousands, dragons' teeth are now very rare. The only other known examples in the borough are at the Broomfield Road/Kings Road junction, in their original position.

These dragons' teeth were kindly donated and relocated by the partnership of Ivybuild Limited and Design Properties Ltd.

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