We visited Oozedam Farm in January of 2018, on a trek across Fobbing Marshes which saw us head from the farm to discover a lost explosives factory, bomb craters and much more. Starting here, we knew that there was a pillbox on the old farm and possibly even the remains of a Spigot Mortar or two. Despite living only across the water at Canvey Island, Joe and I were completely unaware these existed until discovering this great World War Two Heritage trail by Fred Nash – you can click here to get the guide and visit yourself. The farm itself didn’t seem to be inhabited at all, and seemed hardly used, although a lorry did arrive whilst we were exploring. A public footpath connects the farm from the nearby roundabout, which is where we started. Heading in, we passed the old farm buildings including a modern cottage, probably built in the post-war era, all boarded up. This was clearly a rather recent structure, although we know that Oozedam Farm stood long before this and once had a much older farmhouse bearing a russet hipped roof. Census records record that it was originally a local marshland farm acquired by the Orsett Hall estate in the 1800s, although may not have had many people living on it (Source: Bingley, Fobbing Life & Landscape). The Orsett Hall estate let the farm out for grazing in 1902, and possibly was sold off in 1925. It is interesting to note how the farmstead became a focal point of defensive militarisation during the Second World War.
We first spotted a Type 24 pillbox, standard in design, which seemed to be in fair condition and on closer inspection has been left untouched – luckily it wasn’t part of the rubble in front of it! As we walked up to it, BTP Joe spotted a Spigot Mortar stand in the next field. There seem to have been two here until quite recently when it seems one may have been sadly demolished. Either way, we only managed to spot this one. The blacker bombard spigot mortar was a primitive form of black-powder infantry weapon designed to be fired from a pedestal such as the one that survives here in Fobbing. The Home Guard would most likely have used them alongside the pillbox here to defend the Essex coastline and Shell Haven Oil Refinery from a German invasion. Anti-glider ditches once cut through the marshes here, which would have hindered the landing of German Fallschirmjager paratroopers if they came in 1940.