Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

This page is part of a site tour of the Coleshill estate during WW2. Click here to start the tour. 

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Structure 6 - Hut Two

This page was last updated at 4:25pm on 13/2/12

Hut 2 before clearance 

Picture of the structure taken by Bill Ashby in July 2011 - Before it was cleared.

Hut 2 wideangle

Picture of the structure taken by Bill Ashby in February 2012


The following information is an EXTRACT from an archaeological report produced in January 2012 following CART's Coleshill Uncovered project. A range of people contributed, including CART. The report was edited by John Winterburn and Anna Gow.

We have extracted the key info for this area but would suggest you read the full report here

STRUCTURE 6 - HUT TWO

Hut 2 ground plan

This concrete platform had been partially cleared during the January evaluation weekend. Over the course of the July field week volunteers cleared the build-up of vegetative matter and piles of rubble from the rest of the platform. A huge task, it was initially decided to clear two 1m wide strips running north-south and east-west (forming a cross) across the centre of the platform. This then created four quadrants that could be tackled in a more manageable way. The National Trust forester assisted us by removing the small trees that had grown up on the platform. Two patches could not be cleared due to roots from established trees; one on the western side and one on the northern side, but in all approximately 95% of the concrete platform was cleared.

The rectangular post holes that had been noted in January and were located on the southern edge of the platform were investigated further. The second hole from the east corner (post hole 2) was measured and found to be 0.16m east-to-west and 0.23m north-to-south. The sides of the hole sloped inwards to a depth of 0.11m and the dimensions at the bottom were 0.065m east-to-west and 0.11m north-to-south. On its' southern side at the bottom there was a semi-circular niche, 0.085m across. It appears that the holes were cut through the concrete down onto a hard sandy layer. It is possible that this sandy layer was laid down as a levelling layer prior to the concrete being poured. The post holes, which sat approximately 2.28m apart, were not uniform in size and shape (some sloped more than others). This, along with chisel marks inside one of the holes is evidence that they were handmade after the platform had been poured. The second hole contained traces of metal in the semi-circular niche. Was this a pin to wedge a wooden post in place in the main part of the post hole? On the northern edge of the platform four post holes were uncovered (the final two being underneath the vegetation that was not removed), all were located directly opposite a post hole on the southern edge.

Photo 5: Structure 6 - southern edge, Post hole 2 (Photo No. CH07-11 -0117)

The March Interim Report noted evidence of corrugated metal having been used as part of the building construction. These 'wiggly' markings in the concrete are located on both the northern and southern long sides of the platform and it is likely that the metal sheets were supported by the posts located in the six post holes that run along these lengths. In all locations where the 'wiggly' lines are situated there are also drips of bitumen (see photo on next page), suggesting that this was used to seal the bottom of the metal walls to protect the building from damp. In places the bitumen runs over patches of white and red paint. Was the outside of the building painted?

Photo 6: Structure 6 - evidence of corrugated sheeting & bitumen (Photo No. CH07-11-0128)

Approximately 0.50m in from the edge of the main platform there is a crack in the concrete. This was noted in January, but now that the majority of the platform has been cleared it can be seen that this crack runs all the way around the platform at about the same distance on all four sides. The concrete gully that runs around the outside of the structure was cleaned further and it's dimensions can now be seen clearer than when it was initially looked at in January. The north-east corner was reviewed and the gully (which is wider at the top than it is at the bottom) is 0.10m at the top and 0.05m at the bottom. It was also found to sit at slightly different heights below the level of the concrete platform and pathway on the northern and eastern sides. On the northern side the gully sits 0.12m below the level of the concrete platform and 0.036m below the level of the outer pathway. On the eastern side it sits 0.17m below the level of the concrete platform and 0.07m below the level of the outer pathway. The north and south sides show that the gully may have been painted with bitumen, however it is more likely that these patches are run-off from sealing the edges of the metal sheets.

Once cleared a series of pale white lines (approximately 0.10m wide) could be seen across the surface of the concrete platform. At various intervals there were gaps (of 0.80m) in these lines and, coinciding with the positions of these gaps, there were shallow depressions in the concrete. There are lots of scratches on the surface of the concrete platform and in places there are blobs of reddish brown and green paint.

It appears that there are two possible external doorways, one on the east side and one on the west. On the east side a gap in the white lines of 0.81m coincided with two shallow depressions in the concrete platform. The northern end of this possible doorway sits 3.54m south of the north-east corner of the main platform and is directly next to one of the internal walls. On the west side the possible doorway is narrower at 0.61m wide and sits 3.17m south of the north-west corner of the main platform. We are less sure about this as a possible doorway.

Significant finds
A lot of good structural evidence from concrete to electrical fittings from both the clearance of this structure and from piles located close-by were collected. Of special interest is Find No.109 -internal string spool for the frequency display from the tuning dial of a civilian radio. It was likely discarded as not required in the military radio being built from recycled civilian parts. (An exterior 'Treble' knob was also found at Structure 1 = Trench 4 (Find No.120).

Photo 7: Find 109 - radio tuning piece (Photo No. CH07-11 -0146)

Conclusion
It is possible that the large crack around the main part of the platform is in fact from where the concrete was poured in two sections (see photograph below). The outer section (which includes the gully and outer pathway) may have been poured first, with the inner larger section being poured in afterwards.

Photo 8: Structure 6 - crack around concrete base, NW corner (Photo No. CH1-11-0022)

Believed to be remains of concrete, the white lines are thought to represent the internal walls of the building. The gaps would therefore show the positions of doors, with the depressions being where the door frames were fixed into the concrete, possibly via Find No's 338 and 339. In this way we can now see much of the internal arrangement of the building (see Drawing No. 9 in Appendix A - Top of this page). All internal walls appear to have been approximately 0.10m thick.

Photo 9: Structure 6 - white marks believed to be location of internal walls, facing north (Photo No. CH07-11-0022)

Photo 10: Structure 6 - depressions indicating position of internal doorway (Photo No. CH07-11-0122)

The paint blobs (seen above) and surface scratches may be evidence of some sort of production activity going on within the building however these may just as easily be due to post WWII activity. Without analysis of the paint we are unable to say for sure when this spillage occurred.


COMMENTS & OBSERVATIONS ON STAGE 2 REPORT By Bill Ashby (CART CIO for Coleshill)

The measurements and description of this the largest of the concrete bases confirms various documentary evidence that there was a Royal Signals Radio repair and maintenance facility in that part of the Coleshill Estate.

The base is approximately 40’ x 41’.  A semi-circular nissen hut would require more than twenty feet clear headroom which due to the overhanging trees would not be practical.  Therefore the post holes  that are spaced  equally along the North and South edges of the base would carry posts supporting timber roof trusses.

Hut 2 with posts

As the Report states the markings on the concrete bass indicates the room layout.  However the position of the doors seems incomplete.  Having only one door seems unlikely especially as it is in the east wall.  A second door or double doors may have been positioned in the west wall opposite the one in the East.  One reason for suggesting this is that a strip of concrete wide enough for a walkway runs along the west edge.

Hut-2-edge

Read more about the house pre war here and during the war here.