Rail Block at Albany Park

Rail Blocks at Albany Park by Bob Poole GRES Chairman

As well as providing ease of access to travellers, railways can also give a way in to not so welcome guests. So it was that in 1940 that the railways as well as the roads had to be denied to an invader. These were guarded by defended road/rail blocks, usually consisting of concrete structures supporting steel girders or chains, with anti-tank ‘buoys’ positioned ahead of the main defences. These were chained together to break an advancing tanks tracks.

The rail blocks were mostly removed after WWII, but an interesting survivor is the one still to be seen to the east of Albany Park station. It was part of the Outer Defence ring of London, based in the Bexley area upon the River Cray. The line was roughly at the distance of the M25 from central London.

The main defence line was known as the GHQ Line (General Headquarters Line). This  was  built in great haste in 1940 down the eastern side of Britain and around the South Coast. It passed through North Kent between the Medway at Strood and the Thames Estuary at Cliffe fort.  It was part of a static system of defensive lines around England, designed to compartmentalise the country and delay the Germans long enough for more mobile forces to counter-attack. Over 50 defensive lines were constructed around England, the GHQ Line being the longest and most important, designed to protect London and the industrial heart of England. It was composed of the familiar pillboxes and now long since vanished anti-tank ditches, trenches and minefields