Tyneham Village

So all the hanging around was done and I would be able to visit the abandoned village of Tyneham.

Having visited Lulworth I didn’t then want to travel all the way back up the narrow lanes only to have to return the following morning and on my way to the castle had passed a layby in one of the nearby woods, so we went back there for the night.  I think there were more stags roaring in the night but quite a long way in the distance this time.

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Isn’t it surprising how when one is looking forward to an event it often does not live up to expectations, and sadly Tyneham Village was one of these.

I had heard about it, and read about it.  It was the village that time had forgotten.  Abandoned in the war and simply left as it was.  In the run up to D-Day the army had secretly moved the villagers out so manoeuvres could be undertaken.  Several other villages and estates were also cleared, but after the war the government decided it still needed Tyneham owing to the looming Cold War.  The villagers made strenuous efforts to be allowed to return to their lost lives, and eventually permission was given for people to visit, though not to return to live.

One of course has visions of a time warp village, and reading the website that is how it is put across.  Judging from old photographs this was probably the case until the 1960’s and 70’s, but time does not stand still for buildings that are not maintained, and all that remains there now are a few half standing walls.  Yes, the church and schoolhouse have been recently and immaculately restored.


The only other recognisable thing is the telephone box, though I wondered if that was the responsibility of the GPO rather than the army, till I read about its history ** (see the bottom of the page for more on the phone kiosk) 


The K1 telephone kiosk – and no I wasn’t standing at an angle.  That is how it actually is.

But the place is certainly not a time-warp – There is a massive carpark, though as a motorhome I was not allowed down the road to enter it, and had to park a mile or more away, (thank goodness I have The Supter.)  And Health and Safety have been hard at work so there are paths, warning notices and fences everywhere.

The second of the two photos is particularly amusing if you first read the pious Victorian inscription on the water fountain outside the churchyard. Then look at the modern ‘Elf ‘n Safety notice affixed to it.

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I was fortunate that after the hideously stormy wet weather of earlier in the week it was a gloriously sunny, though fearsomely cold day.  With the result that the ‘World and His Wife’ had come to visit and they seemed to have brought all of their children and dogs with them.  I did manage to get a few photos free of the meandering hordes but I had to wait quite a while. But the contrast between then and now was striking

The Rectory 1930 and 2015

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Rectory Cottages then and now

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Post Office Row over the years

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Sadly not somewhere I would bother to revisit.

What was stunning was the drive there. This was on the road from the carpark to the village


Although incredibly narrow and pretty steep, the little lane climbs up the side of the Purbeck Hills to a wonderful viewpoint at the top.  Trying to take photos of panoramic views is mostly a waste of time, and one never has the real feel of what the eye sees in a place like that.  Though that is probably more of an excuse – in that the wind was so severe and the day so very cold that I viewed it from the cosy interior of Thebus.

Further down along the hill was another carpark and being more sheltered it was possible to get out and admire the view even if for a fairly short time.  I think one is looking out over Brandy Bay, what a real Smuggler’s Name that is.  And beautiful scenery all round, so although the village of Tyneham was something of a disappointment the trip there was worthwhile.   And the telephone kiosk was fun.







** Taken from Tyneham Village Website

Tyneham got its first public telephone kiosk during the winter of 1929. Before this date the villagers would keep in touch with the outside world by telegram or later by using the telephone in the back room of the Post Office. 

Tyneham Valley was evacuated during the second world war and for the next forty years the abandoned kiosk was left to its fate, hidden under the shade of self seeded trees and disappearing under the sea of undergrowth which had consumed most of the village. 

In the early 1980’s, prolonged protest and campaigning resulted in the public being granted increased access to the Army Ranges. In 1983 the kiosk was restored as part of a massive clear up programme but with the incorrect K1 roof decoration. 

During the filming of ‘Comrades’ in 1985 an accident resulted in the kiosk being completely destroyed. 

The K1 was Britain’s first standard kiosk. Between 1921 and 1927 three different versions of this phone box were designed by the General Post Office, all with the same reinforced concrete body and wooden door. The kiosk at Tyneham is the third and final version. 

During this period the GPO had great difficulty persuading local authorities to accept a standard design. A variety of styles had sprung up since public phone boxes had first appeared on our streets at the turn of the century. 

Rustic wooden booths in rural districts, workmanlike galvanised iron for the dockside. Eastbourne seafront boasted two kiosks with thatched roofs! Paintwork was equally creative, ranging from conservative buffs and browns to eye catching vermillion and flame. The GPO had to find a solution to this confusion. 

Leading architects were called in to design an attractive, cost effective kiosk which could be made available in all our towns and cities. Post Office Red was to become the standard colour. Eight kiosk designs were introduced between 1921 and 1983. 

It was the K6, introduced in 1935 for the Jubilee of George V, that was destined to become a British icon. Known throughout the world as ‘The Red Telephone Box’ it has become part of our national identity. 

‘The Red Telephone Box’ is increasingly threatened in this age of the mobile phone. British Telecom is attempting to save this important part of our heritage with their ’Adopt a Kiosk’ for a pound scheme. By the beginning of 2012 over 1500 communities were taking care of their local box turning them into everything from art galleries to libraries. 

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