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 5 - Hut One

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


Picture of the structure taken by CART in January 2011.

Hut one-test-trench

Picture of the test trench taken by CART in July 2011.

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


Hut One Ground Plan

After the clearance work done on this structure in January, it was decided to open a trench (Trench 2) around the NW corner of the concrete base. This trench was approximately 1m x 1m around the two sides, and 0.75m out from the concrete base (see Drawing No. 1 in Appendix A). Once the topsoil was removed across the full area of the trench a compacted gravel surface (2.2) could be seen that extended beyond the limits of excavation of the trench. It was agreed that we could extend the trench to the west by a metre. Once this was cleared of topsoil (which was approximately 0.035m deep) it could be seen that the gravel surface continued across most of the extension, but sloped away at the south-west end of the trench. There was also a small burnt area (approximately 0.30m wide) in the north-west corner of the trench.

Starting up against the western side of the concrete base, the compacted gravel layer was removed to reveal a layer of hard core rubble (2.3). Ranging in size from 0.05m to 0.20m across, this hard core abuts the concrete base and continues for approximately 0.50m to the west. It is believed that this rubble has been used as backfill to fill up the shallow depression cut into the ground for the concrete base to be laid into. The gravel has then been laid on top and compacted down to create a flat surface to walk on outside the building.

Photo 4: Trench 2 - view of completed trench, facing north-east (Photo No. CH-07-11 -0014)

On the east side of the concrete platform, a piece of metal pipe was observed protruding from the ground at 3.95m from the north-east corner and 0.13m from the eastern edge. To investigate this, a small test pit (Trench 2.10) was opened up measuring 0.2m x 0.2m, with the aim of ascertaining if the pipe was used to carry services to the hut. The trench was enlarged to 0.6m x 0.4m, taken down to a depth of 0.3m and the pipe was removed from the trench. It was apparent that the pipe was not connected to further pipe work of any sort, and it appeared to have been just driven into the ground.

Significant finds
Context 2.3 produced a fragment of white clay tobacco pipe stem. Trench 2.10 yielded up a galvanised iron water pipe (Find No 237) and a park railing stand (Find No 238). It is possible that these were recycled as electrical earth-rods for this building.

The evidence observed would imply the following construction methodology for this hut base:

• Prior to construction ground clearance and removal of some of the topsoil took place. This was to a depth of 125mm and extended 500mm beyond the edges of the intended hut base.

• No gravel or hard core binding was laid prior to construction.

• Small stake holes were dug around the area identified for construction. Stakes were driven in to each of these holes and levelled with each other.

• Base plates were then fixed across the top of the stakes and once again levelled, then the ground inside the stakes was levelled.

• Plywood shuttering was then nailed to the exterior of the base plate, and variously held in position by nailing to the stakes, or some hard core. Where shuttering was nailed, the base is slightly under cut, where hard core was used the edges are more vertical. Both of these approaches to holding the shuttering are evident on this base hut.

• Concrete was then poured inside the shuttering perimeter and levelled with the top of the base plate.

• Finally the ground surface around the base of the hut was levelled off using gravel and hard core; it is presumed this last task would have been done prior to the hut being constructed onto the concrete base as this would give an easier surface for construction crews to work on.

Based upon a working knowledge of this type of construction from one of the team who was working in this trench, it can be estimated that the hut base would have taken 6 men, 1 day to complete. The lack of any form of gravel binding under the hut base implies that the hut was not viewed as being a long term structure, and that it was built either in a hurry, or with a lack of suitable materials. The presence of what appeared to be an earthing rod (in Trench 2.10) suggests that there was an electrical power supply to this hut. The varied approaches to securing the lower edge of the shuttering implies that either there were not sufficient materials available to work consistently or that the construction was hurried.

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