Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Abandoned Places: The Urban Warfare Village

The town of Imber dates back over 1000 years. Its first known mention is in Saxon documents dated 967 and it had a population of about 50 according to the Doomsday Book a little over 100 years later. The village church, St. Giles, was built in the 13th century. Located on the sparsely populated Salisbury Plain, Imber never grew to be more than an isolated village, peaking in the 1850s with something over 400 residents. At the time of its abandonment, only 150 people lived there.

In the late 19th century the British military began using the Salisbury Plain to practice maneuvers, and the War Office began buying up all the land. By the beginning of World War II, the government owned most of the village. When the US military picked it out as a good place to practice urban warfare, the villagers were called for a town meeting and given notice that they had 47 days to evacuate the small town. Most of the villagers left without protest, many leaving behind canned goods and other provisions to support the war effort. Though told that they would eventually be able to return to their homes, the village has been vacant ever since. The urban warfare training by the US never took place.

However, after WWII, the UK did use the village for that purpose, training their own troops for fighting in the urban environments of Northern Ireland. During that time period, many of the buildings suffered damage from shelling and other types of explosions. Since the 1951 census, the population has been recorded as 0. With the exception of St. Giles church, the whole parish is owned by the Ministry of Defense.

Your bonus today: More photos from Ukraine!
In 1976, construction began in Crimea on the most expensive nuclear reactor ever to be built. It was not finished at the time of the Chernobyl incident and, then, was never finished.


  1. Is it just me, or does it seem criminal to bomb old English buildings?
    Since they don't own the church, does that mean they can't bomb it?

  2. What an adorable little town! I want to live there! Of course, the shelling might keep me up at night...

  3. Seems a shame to destroy such a neat little town.

  4. Can you imagine your town holding a meeting and being told, "You have 47 days to evacuate." Awful.

  5. And we didn't even bother using it. Nice job, US military!

    Technically Crimea is part of Russia now.

  6. The shellings would keep me up at night, too, Lexa!

  7. Those buildings definitely have seen some action in their time. Can you go inside and explore or is it blocked from public access somehow?

  8. I love the story there. "Get out. We're blowing up the town in 6 weeks."

    So, you think the food is still there that they left?

  9. Modern building have sure changed the scope of warfare. If you've ever played Battlefield, it's an idea of how combat is fought today, but very much nothing like the real thing.

  10. I would love to explore in that area and go inside the church.

  11. It's like the skeleton of an old war general Andrew.

  12. Very powerful photographs. It's a shame that those buildings can be preserved forever. They should be.

  13. Alex C: I'm not quite certain how they have avoided harming the church, but it's still in use (the only thing still in use) for special occasions.

    Lexa: I don't think they're shelling it anymore, but you might end with soldiers dragging you out of your bed.

    Jean: Well, it's not actually destroyed destroyed.

    Elsie: I suppose that's what you can expect, though, when you sell off all your land to the government.

    Pat: I'm waiting to see how all of that shakes down before I'm going with that Crimea thing.

    randi: Maybe it's like a thunderstorm?

    Stephanie: I'm pretty sure the town is not accessible to the public anymore because it's military property.

    Rusty: That's a good question.

    David: I've only played Battlefront, and I don't think that's exactly the same.

    Jennifer: I can't say I wouldn't like to see the church.

    Maurice: That's an interesting way to look at it.

    debi: Maybe they'll keep the church...

  14. The village is very strange. It looks like a movie set. Maybe that's what they should use it for.

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  15. A thousand years! That's a pretty impressive run. I can't believe they evacuated it, never used it, then the people never came back. What a waste.

  16. Lee: Except the military owns it and, I suppose, they don't want people to use it.

    Jeanne: Well, the British used it, just not the U.S.

  17. The buildings in the pictures don't look that old anyway, just deserted. It is a pity though but at least the church still stands.

  18. Imber looks like the right place to shoot a movie about a haunted village!

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  19. Jo: And, yet, some of those buildings are at least 100 years old and the church is much older than that.

    D Biswas: It probably would be good for that.

  20. Those are lovely buildings - or building skeletons.

    I'm sad they were bombed, but happy that you shared them with us. That keeps them alive, in a sense, I think.

  21. Shan: I suppose so. At least in mind.

  22. Sounds like it would be a good place to repurpose for something, anything... maybe some kind of government-funded livestock farming, agriculture, or even just something to sell back to the people.

  23. Alex H: Yeah, but, then: government.