Horsham prepared itself for a German invasion during World War II and many artefacts remain in place today, some within walking distance of the town centre. Fortunately none of these defences were put to the test.
Perhaps the easiest to find are the ‘footprints’ that remain after the dragon’s teeth tank traps were removed from the Causeway. Heading towards the church, just past the museum you can see a grid of 18″ x 15″ squares in the Horsham stone paving. 29 of these teeth were in place during the war. The site is also commemorated with a Heritage Trail notice.
Down by the Town or Provender Mill is a pill box, now bricked up for safety. According to the Heritage Trail notice it is a Type FW/26 and is a square brick clad concrete box with 18″ thick walls. It was designed to take four 0.303″ calibre light machine guns. It formed part of a second line of defence that continued to Guildford, the first line being the coastal defences. Of the 20,000 pill boxes built just 2,000 remain.
At the entrance to Chesworth Farm there is a row of three dragon’s teeth. These can be found at the end of the car park adjacent to the river. On the opposite side of the road there are two further teeth actually in the river and another on the river bank.
By the Barrack Fields a number of barrel shaped defences are still to be found. Two are laying on the river bed near to where the railway bridge is. If you walk under the bridge towards Denne Park you will see another on the left in a field, a further five lined up on the right hand side before the gates and a single one on the opposite corner. These traps have holes in the central axis to allow them to be rolled into place on a bridge before being stood on their flat ends. They would then be fixed to the bridge surface into pre-drilled holes.
Further tank traps, or ‘coffins’, can be seen in the River Arun a short distance away from the railway bridge. These acted as road blocks allowing smaller vehicles through whilst blocking the way for a battle tank.
November 2010 update: since writing this original article in 2007 further remains have emerged. A pill box has been uncovered from the undergrowth at the far end of Wickhurst Lane and news of another one in someone’s garden in Chesworth Close. When these have been photographed this article will be updated.
Thanks to Derelict Horsham (no longer online) and Bovington Tank Museum for information used on this page.