Nikon D5100, Norfolk, Photography

On The Lookout

On Christmas Eve I took my father-in-law out to a place that I had been meaning to visit but never had actually gone to. So we wrapped up well against the bleak northerly winds and the odd blustery splatter of rain, harnessed up the dog and went out to Ongar Hill.

There are three things about Ongar Hill that need to be pointed out before we go any further. Firstly, there is no hill – this is the edge of the fens – you can’t get any flatter. Secondly, it is the site of a unique and derelict WW2 coastal defence station. Thirdly, there is nothing else there. Nothing at all.

The three storey lookout tower becomes visible as you round a bend in the lane about a quarter of a mile away:

LESTARET-ongar-2 LESTARET-ongar-3
The square tower becomes quite monolithic as you stand beneath it, and whilst not exactly tall, would have commanded an advantageous view over the mouth of the Great Ouse and out into the Wash for a mile or so.

There are three smaller single storey buildings close by, each in a dreadful state of decay, and having been visited by less welcome visitors who have left a variety of reminders of their stay, from tags and basic graffiti (come on Phlegm, where are you!) to fires, makeshift beds and the detritus of non-too healthy recreational pastimes!

Inside the tower, the first floor has been removed but there is a hatch into the top floor that looks like someone has had a rope or two up there in the past. There are two boxes fastened to the building – one inside and one out – for birds or bats, possibly. There are other nest boxes around the area and I gather there are a lot of birders that regularly come out this way.

There are a few more pictures on the web, and plenty of talk on various forums. Better off going there in person though.


4 thoughts on “On The Lookout

  1. Fantastic shots as ever Mr Lestaret, very moody. I could see a large scale Phlegm work on this now you’ve mentioned it, maybe a snake wrapping it’s coils around the entire tower.

    1. This is a prime spot for someone like Phlegm to create something inspiring and uniquely site specific – it’s very remote, desolate and quietly important, but it is also deteriorating – if you look at the fourth photo, there is a serious crack in the masonry at the back just under the concrete slab roof. It won’t be too long before the weight of the slab above the lookout will become too great for the rear wall to support – after all, this is a very exposed spot and subject to some very strong winds. I wouldn’t like to think that these buildings last human interactions are drug dens. It would be better to honour them with some inventive and remarkable artwork before they crumble, to go out with a bang so to speak. Alas.

    1. Thanks Sonmi, there are some fantastic artists out there that could make very good use of a site like this. There is some graffiti here, but it’s very basic and largely lots of tags, which doesn’t add anything – it just detracts. I’m sure that Phlegm would be able to work some real magic here…

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