The BBC News Magazine starts a campaign to compile a digital collection of memories on Britain’s abandoned villages:
The ghosts of thousands of long-forgotten villages haunt Britain, inhabitations suddenly deserted and left to ruin. As a new campaign begins to shed further light on these forgotten histories, the Magazine asks – what happened and why?
Albert Nash, blacksmith for 44 years in the village of Imber, Wiltshire, was found by his wife Martha slumped over the anvil in his forge.
He was, in her words, crying like a baby.
It was the beginning of November 1943, a day or two after Mr Nash and the rest of the villagers had been told by the War Office they had 47 days to pack their bags and leave, to make way for US forces.
Within weeks Mr Nash had died. Folklore had it that the death certificate said the cause was a broken heart.
Imber, once a Saxon settlement, is one of thousands of British ex-villages – once thriving communities that succumbed to natural or human forces, like disease, coastal erosion, industrial decline, reservoirs or war.