Description (Object or Artwork):
This black and white photograph shows two oil tanks beneath the colonnaded walkway on Madeira Drive, Brighton. The tanks are hidden by camouflage nets, one of which has been partially lowered. A sign to the right of the tanks indicates the streets that can be reached by the neighbouring stairs: Marine Parade, Kings Cliff, Paston Place, Eastern Terrace. During the early years of the Second World War, Britain was faced with the threat of German invasion. The British retreat from Dunkirk and the French surrender of June 1940 left the south coast dangerously exposed. Brighton's beaches were closed at 5pm on 2 July 1940, and defence measures were erected along the seafront. Mines were placed along the beach and barbed wire barricades protected the front. The oil tanks pictured here were probably intended to set the sea on fire. In the event of invasion, oil could be sprayed onto the surface of the sea. When ignited, this would create an extra level of defence from marine troops. Following the success of the D-Day landings in June 1944, the threat of invasion was lifted. Work soon began to remove many of the beach defences. The Borough Surveyor's department oversaw this work, and took several photographs of the defences prior to their removal.