Parish Clerks Network

News from 1973

The Times, Tuesday 28 August 1973

Protesters post cards from village on tank firing range

Protesters cut army barbed wire yesterday afternoon and ignored “unexploded shells” signs to reopen the battered post office at Tyneham village, Dorset, in the heart of the Lulworth tank firing ranges.

Members of the 1943 Committee, so-called from the year the land was occupied, trespassed through Ministry of Defence property into the ruins of the grey stone cottage to sell its first goods for 30 years. Holidaymakers followed to buy picture postcards of local scenery kept permanently unseen behind the barbed wire. The cards were handed back for the group to imprint its own postmark, “Posted at Tyneham Post Office” and were then dropped into a homemade pillarbox.

The first card was posted by Mr John Gould, who was born in a cottage nearby 61 years ago. Soldiers stood by for 10 minutes and the police and army rang wardens escorted the committee members from the building. The police removed a large sign saying “Tyneham Post Office reopened after 30 years.” The soldiers then replaced the uprooted posts and fencing.

Mrs Mavis Caver, committee chairman, said: “The 10 square miles of the ranges have been recommended for release to the people by Lord Nugent’s defence lands report. We are here today to show Lord Carrington that the Government must accept the report and conserve this land.”

One of the postcards

The above feature prompted the following response:

The Times, Friday 31 August 1973

Letter to the Editor

Proposed transfer of gunnery range

From the Bishop of Portsmouth

Sir, Lest it should be thought that Mrs Caver and her 1943 Committee (August 28) in any way represent local opinion, it is to be recorded that recently a public meeting was held in this village to discuss the proposed Army withdrawal. To the surprise of the organisers over 300 people attended and 300 voted for the Army remaining and 14 against. An opinion poll of the village of East and West Lulworth showed an equally overwhelming majority in favour of “no change”.

Two factors loom large in local thinking. One inevitably is economic. The Army employ a large number of civilians from the two villages and there is no alternative employment, apart altogether from the money spent in various and obvious ways. The other big factor is a very real fear that the withdrawal of the Army will leave a vacuum which eventually will be filled by developers. The opinion locally is very firm that it would rather have the Army than the possible – in our minds probable – desecration of a glorious coastline and countryside. I wholeheartedly agree as one who grew up on the ranges and hopes to retire here eventually.

I am, Sir, yours,


As from Finches, West Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset